Privacy legislation geared at safeguarding access to medical records may undermine employers' expanding uses of employee health care information in managed-care and benefit- integration programs. Following the mandate of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, three Senate bills are being hashed out, each of which establishes different authorization requirements and limitations on disclosure, says Susan Kornetsky, an attorney with William M. Mercer Inc.
Currently not hindered by employee-consent laws, employers are increasingly cross- referencing health information as they try to promote employee health and reduce insurance costs, says Kornetsky. At risk, however, could be programs that identify the health risks of an employee population and subsequently install prevention programs. Also, companies that are trying to integrate all health benefits under one umbrella could be foiled by consent requirements, she says.