Insurance company asking what my religion is? Unethical?


#1

*I was not sure where to put this, so mods, please feel free to relocate this thread.

My question is this…my employer recently asked those participating in the healthcare plan, to fill out a questionaire, and take a blood test, in order to receive the full ‘fund’ benefit, that it provides. I have a plan where the ded. is high, but my employer has a fund set up to pay down the deductible…then, it goes to a typical 80-20 split. Okay…so I filled out the questionaire, and there are a variety of health related questions…ie: do you smoke, drink, ever been depressed, etc…typical health-related questions.

Then, there is a question about faith…what religion are you? :ehh: I wondered to myself, how is this relevant? Why is this relevant? I thought, maybe it’s because if one is ‘‘spiritual’’ then one might be calmer, thus healthier, and less stressed? I am not sure.

My husband said that he thinks such a question is unethical…I explained that the answers to the questionaire are ‘‘confidential,’’ only between the insurance carrier and me…but, it does make me wonder why such a question is necessary.

Oh, the results of the blood test and the questionaire are immaterial…my employer just requests that everyone complete both to get the ‘‘credit.’’ I don’t find that unethical, but then you wonder if that is the wave of the future…if the blood results come back showing, say…a predisposition for whatever, let’s say heart disease…would that mean my premium would go up eventually? (even though the results of the tests are moot, right now)

So, what do you make of that religion question? :hmmm:*


#2

I've been googling it and can't find any answers...
The only thing that pops into my head is what about the religions that refuse medical treatment... JW's maybe?? Are they more costly to insure because maybe they resort to the ER in an emergency rather than treating things at a lower level - thus making it more costly?? I don't know... :shrug:


#3

never heard of that, wouldn't answer it.


#4

If the answer to that question doesn't impact your coverage, my guess is that they are gathering information for statistical purposes. I agree that it is pretty strange.

Back 10+ years ago I worked for an insurance company that discounted your insurance if you were officially weighed and found to have a normal BMI and if you answered some questions indicating that you didn't smoke and worked out for a certain minimal amount of time per week. I guess some of that could be viewed as potentially discriminatory, although such things actually have a direct correlation to your health.

I also know from working in the insurance industry that your occupation is one of the biggest factors in determining your risk group. So, who knows, maybe your religion will some day be fair game in determining what type of a risk you are. That would probably be a good thing for those who are religious, but I really don't see getting a faith discount as being something that will ever fly.


#5

*1ke--thing is, the questionaire is designed that one can't skip over any questions...''none'' was a choice. lol But, I put Catholic.

dulcissima...yes, I thought it was odd. I have read that many doctors feel that having a religion that one consistently practices, will benefit a person health-wise. :shrug:

I think that eventually, depending on where we head nationally with healthcare, that private companies will start doing more of what you are talking about, dulcissima...people paying a higher premium if they don't fall into a certain BMI, or smoke, etc...I mean, that's the case for life insurance...depending on the death benefit one wishes to have. People with health issues, or who smoke or are overweight, bungee jump, etc...paying higher premiums.*


#6

Hi!

I know why--

Because the medical insurance company bills things and covers things based upon what they beleive is the most appropriate treatment (or the USUSAL course of treatment) for an illness or injury.

But if you have religious restrictions on your medical care, then they will approve payment for something that deviates from the "typical" care plan.

For example:

last spring I had an ectopic pregnancy. The typical treatment, which is most cost effective, is an injection of methotrexate. Because of respect life reasons, I could not take this injection until I had a sonogram to verify that the embryo had already died. Because I am Catholic, the insurance company paid for the sonogram, which normally, they would not pay for, as it is "medically unnecessary" rfom a secular point of view, see?

I advise you to fill it out. It benefits you in the long run! :)


#7

I don't like the idea of it not being optional. That to me is where the ethical issue lies - don't force me to reveal something like that if I don't want to - give me the option to opt out of the question if I don't care to answer it.

Personally, if it were me, I would be sending a letter to the ethics department of where your husband works and point this out to them. They may not have a clue that the insurance carrier is asking this question, but they certainly don't want to get involved in some sort of ethical situation. I think I recall who your husband works for - and I know they have had discrimination/ethics/belief issues come up in the past. Surely they don't want another one coming from an insurance questionnaire.

~Liza


#8

That sounds like a logical premise, Yellowdaisy, but it seems like it would be something that they would ask everyone to complete and would be worded differently: "Does your faith place certain requirements on your healthcare options?" In this case the OP was required to answer what her religion is in order to receive an additional benefit. To me that doesn't indicate that it would be there for the purpose of offering the insured more healthcare options.


#9

[quote="dulcissima, post:8, topic:184043"]
That sounds like a logical premise, Yellowdaisy, but it seems like it would be something that they would ask everyone to complete and would be worded differently: ** "Does your faith place certain requirements on your healthcare options?" ** In this case the OP was required to answer what her religion is in order to receive an additional benefit. To me that doesn't indicate that it would be there for the purpose of offering the insured more healthcare options.

[/quote]

*Yes, I agree.

I will say that no one is forced to fill out the questionaire or take the blood test to receive an additional ''benefit''...BUT, if you want the fund paid for at 100%, then you needed to complete both. If I don't have the fund, that means that the benefits will still be there, I will be on the hook for more, that's all..the fund pays down the deductible, in other words.

It just makes one wonder ''who'' is reading the answers and will those answers adversely/positively affect the insured, later on. *


#10

[quote="lizaanne, post:7, topic:184043"]
I don't like the idea of it not being optional. That to me is where the ethical issue lies - don't force me to reveal something like that if I don't want to - give me the option to opt out of the question if I don't care to answer it.

Personally, if it were me, I would be sending a letter to the ethics department of where your husband works and point this out to them. They may not have a clue that the insurance carrier is asking this question, but they certainly don't want to get involved in some sort of ethical situation. I think I recall who your husband works for - and I know they have had discrimination/ethics/belief issues come up in the past. Surely they don't want another one coming from an insurance questionnaire.

~Liza

[/quote]

It's my employer, not my husband's...he works for Disney, and they have lousy benefits, from a cost effective standpoint, so the family is on mine.


#11

[quote="whatevergirl, post:10, topic:184043"]
It's my employer, not my husband's...he works for Disney, and they have lousy benefits, from a cost effective standpoint, so the family is on mine.

[/quote]

Ah - well, I'd still write the letter. ;)

~Liza


#12

A lot of providers are doing the blood test stuff and yes it's store in their big, but secure (hopefully) databases. At this point in time they can't use them to discriminate once you have it through your employer however there is no guarantee for the future, especially the way HSAs (which is sounds like you have) are working...

Too bad our Government couldn't come to consensus on health care... at least it's looking bad right now because of course taking care of people's health and protecting their health rights from greedy insurance companies is a terrible terrible thing to do... terrible enough some had to protest.

Ah the joys of our Great Nation... Health Care should be a right. Someday it will be. It's sad that while we use to lead the world on many things but we now squabble so much and put our faith in self serving pundits rather than looking for the truth we continually fall behind... The elite of both parties must love getting together to laugh at the ignorance of the masses as our disunity of what should be common sense issues (the Church is for it as long as we don't pay for abortions) that keep them in their ivory towers.


#13

I think I would rather have no healthcare plan than the numbskull, one size fits practically no one but we are all gonna pay through the nose, one that our out of touch "representatives" were coming up with.

Heartless as they all are, at least the insurance companies are basing their business practices on actual data.

So a Catholic might be more expensive to insure if they suffer an ectopic pregnancy, but would be less expensive to provide coverage for as far as the cost of artificial birth control. They probably don't have enough data to determine the overall impact of religion on health care costs and good luck to them in gathering that data, because it seems like it would be extremely difficult to predict the degree to which one follows their faith and the impact that has on providing healthcare coverage for them.

I would just answer the question and let the chips fall where they may. In the big picture, I don't think you will ever go wrong proclaiming your faith.


#14

*I agree, dulcissima...frankly, I'm bored with hearing how horrible insurance companies are...Insurance companies didn't single handedly cause the healthcare problems. There are so many layers to the problem, insurance being one of the layers.

At the risk of going off on a rant...thank you for your input dulcissima. lol :)*


#15

The only thing I would think that would make it relevant would be if the insurance company was a Catholic fraternal order.

Other than that, I would file a complaint with the state Department of Insurance. This sounds illegal to me.


#16

I’ve been in the group insurance industry for a number of very large carriers - specifically the claims and benefits end - for 42+ years, and have never encountered the religious question. If I re-read your original post, it left me wondering if the religion question was on an *employer’s *form (and not an insurance company form) because the “extra” funds to bring the supplemental coverage up to the 100% level were coming from the employer and not the insurance company. (Typical for an employer-funded healthcare savings account.) Applications and other key forms are typically filed with the state insurance departments, and I would think a “religion” question would make them go beserk and would never be approved.

So is this really the employer asking the question in the context of a “flexible savings account” or a “healthcare savings account” (which in any case I agree is highly objectionable)?

I can’t imagine nurse case managers (the folks on the other end of the phone who are called on to approve care plans) dealing with which-religion-forbids-which-procedures — or actuaries adjusting rates for the religious makeup of a plan. Just wrong. Never seen it. Hope I never do.


#17

[quote="Mattapoisett64, post:16, topic:184043"]
I've been in the group insurance industry for a number of very large carriers - specifically the claims and benefits end - for 42+ years, and have never encountered the religious question. If I re-read your original post, it left me wondering if the religion question was on an *employer's *form (and not an insurance company form) because the "extra" funds to bring the supplemental coverage up to the 100% level were coming from the employer and not the insurance company. (Typical for an employer-funded healthcare savings account.) Applications and other key forms are typically filed with the state insurance departments, and I would think a "religion" question would make them go beserk and would never be approved.

So is this really the employer asking the question in the context of a "flexible savings account" or a "healthcare savings account" (which in any case I agree is highly objectionable)?

I can't imagine nurse case managers (the folks on the other end of the phone who are called on to approve care plans) dealing with which-religion-forbids-which-procedures --- or actuaries adjusting rates for the religious makeup of a plan. Just wrong. Never seen it. Hope I never do.

[/quote]

*Hi Matt;

It is part and parcel of a ''wellness program,'' so that is how it was presented...so you are right, it probably did not come from aetna directly, which is the carrier. It was presented as ''this is part of the new wellness program, being more accountable for your choices, etc...'' and then the questionaire followed. I don't have a flex spending account, but I have the HSA. (our company does offer the flex spending account) I think the questionaire was only given to those of us who elected the HSA (employer paying the fund) I don't believe the religion question has to do with the benefits themselves...I say that because it's not mandated to answer the questionaire, but if you want the company to pay the full amount of the fund, then yes, you have to answer it. I didn't think about it much, but in discussing it with my dh, he thought it was odd.

So, you work in benefits? I work for a broker, actually...in sales/marketing.*


#18

[quote="Norseman82, post:15, topic:184043"]
The only thing I would think that would make it relevant would be if the insurance company was a Catholic fraternal order.

Other than that, I would file a complaint with the state Department of Insurance. This sounds illegal to me.

[/quote]

Really? Hmmm...I can't help but think you are right (not that it's illegal, but that it doesn't seem appropriate to ask this in conjunction with my benefits, or anything pertaining to my employment) I just don't see what being Catholic or Jewish, etc has to do with my health? :confused:


#19

[quote="whatevergirl, post:18, topic:184043"]
I just don't see what being Catholic or Jewish, etc has to do with my health? :confused:

[/quote]

One would think we'd get a discount with all the fish in our diet!

Anyway, we are going through the same thing with the wellness program, but we did not have the religion question on it, and there were certain questions we did not have to answer.


#20

[quote="Norseman82, post:19, topic:184043"]
One would think we'd get a discount with all the fish in our diet!

Anyway, we are going through the same thing with the wellness program, but we did not have the religion question on it, and there were certain questions we did not have to answer.

[/quote]

*Oh, but the cannolis! :ouch: :D

Kidding, I don't eat those that often. Really...No really. :blush: ;)*


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