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My employer (in the United States) is requiring me to complete forms and send them to a health insurance company. They are doing this for the purpose of researching health insurance options. Everyone has to complete the forms.

In several years of working there (and being enrolled in their health insurance program), this is the first time I have been required to do something like this.

The questionnaire asks about existing medical conditions, past issues, upcoming treatments, etc. for me and my dependents.

I want to choose who I share this information with. Is it normal for an employer to require as terms of employment the disclosure of health information to a party of their choice?

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    I've tagged this for the US because as far as I know insurance rates that depend on the overall health of a company's workforce are a uniquely American concept that would never fly in Europe. The relevant keywords to search for seem to be "community rating" versus "experience rating" when it comes to health insurance. – Lilienthal Sep 23 '15 at 8:18
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This seems entirely reasonable.

If the employer is providing health insurance, they can reasonably ask you to provide information that would allow them to shop for that coverage. The group insurance market in the United States is a bit complicated but there are various situation where a health underwritten quote either necessary or at least desirable. In order to get that sort of quote, the insurance company providing the quote would need to know about your health history.

Ideally, this sort of information wouldn't be visible to anyone in your company. It would only be visible to the health insurance company providing the quote and to any broker that is working with your company and the insurance company. If your company is using paper forms rather than one of the electronic systems, however, it is possible that information will leak to whoever in your company deals with the paper forms. You may be able to ask your company either to look into the electronic options that are available in your area in order to improve security and prevent this leakage.

Realistically, you probably weren't asked for this information in the past because your company was just renewing their current group policy. The current carrier policy might not be health underwritten in which case the carrier would just require information about the number of people covered, ages, smoking status, and a few other variables. Or the current carrier might be basing the quote on the information they have about the group's actual claims over the period. Just renewing the same policy every year rather than getting new quotes periodically, however, can result in companies paying much more than they need to for health insurance leaving less money available for other types of compensation.

  • To clarify, it is possible to submit these forms directly to the insurance company. – Paul Draper Sep 23 '15 at 3:23
  • The "unreasonableness" (if there is any), is that typically I've been free to pick and choose who I give my health information to. If I didn't trust insurance company X, I could decline, and choose insurance company Y instead. – Paul Draper Sep 23 '15 at 3:26
  • @PaulDraper - You're free, of course, to decline employer coverage and and get individual coverage from whatever insurance company you'd like. If the employer chooses X for the group coverage or wants to get a quote from X, you can't have group coverage and avoid X getting your health information. It would be unusual to have group coverage where you can choose a carrier though that is possible in a couple states. – Justin Cave Sep 23 '15 at 4:04
  • True, though in this case, I am required to divulge my information to this particular company. (Or, presumably, quit.) – Paul Draper Sep 23 '15 at 20:33
  • @PaulDraper - I'd strongly wager that you also have the option to waive employer coverage in which case you wouldn't need to fill out the health information. Of course, that's probably a substantial financial hit. – Justin Cave Sep 23 '15 at 20:39
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Yes, this is normal. Your employer does not see the results. The insurance company uses it to set rates for the company plan as a whole.

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