Skepticism is good. Skepticism and weariness should be part of everybody’s personality, for we are not Alice and we don’t live in Wonderland. In fact, fake do-gooders play hide and seek before our eyes, and we often seem unable to detect them. This is the case of a new, brilliant excuse made up by some American companies.
According to The Wall Street Journal, companies like Wal-Mart are hiring firms like Castlight Healthcare to gather and analyze data from employees to predict the risk of disease or major health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and even pregnancy. The firms also provide employees with personalized advice like where to see a doctor, how to start a weight-loss program and so on. Employees have to willingly participate in this program, and they must give consent for their data to be analyzed. However, it seems to be a rip-off.
Harry Greenspun, director of Deloitte LLP’s Center for Health Solutions, told The Wall Street Journal, “I bet I could better predict your risk of a heart attack by where you shop and where you eat than by your genome.”
This sentiment opens the door to a wider issue. Health care agencies, and subsequently companies who hire them, will have a clear sight of where and when employees spend their money, whether in a fast-food restaurant, in a bike shop or at the club.
Obviously, it is not a caring gesture of companies toward their employees, but rather a manipulative and compulsive way to investigate people’s lives and pass judgment. Let’s face it, if a boss notices from your personal expenses that you spend one night every month at a nightclub, there is no doubt that he will start to see you differently, even though you’re rigorous with your duties and you have every kind of right to spend the night wherever you want. Hence, employers are more likely to use the data gathered to frown upon and judge employee’s leisure activities and not to help them out.
“To determine which employees might soon get pregnant, Castlight recently launched a new product that scans insurance claims to find women who have stopped filling birth control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility-related searches on Castlight’s health app,” journalist Rachel Emma Silverman wrote in The Wall Street Journal article.
Would an employee be happy knowing that her boss knows whether she’s on birth control or not? I don’t think so.
Also, what are the perks of this? What could the employer, through the health care company, advise or suggest for it? Pregnancy or the prevention of it is a private matter, and work shouldn’t interfere with it. Moreover, it is crystal clear that this new invention is just a way to decide the future of employees — whether to fire, keep or replace them. Companies are acting like the savior of the situation, but in reality, they are just building up a fake façade to prevent them from critics.