Should doctors be asked to report to health insurers when patients aren’t following their treatment plans? Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine – the top medical journal in the world – TU College of Law Associate Professor Matt Lamkin addresses workplace “wellness” programs that tie the cost of employees’ insurance to their health behaviors. Under these insurance plans, employees with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can see their insurance costs rise by thousands of dollars if they fail to follow their doctors’ instructions. Lamkin writes that although these programs seek to reduce health care costs by improving employees’ health – both of which are worthy goals – they can also come with hidden costs.
“Requiring physicians to report their patients’ noncompliance to insurers can threaten the trust that a productive doctor-patient relationship depends on,” Lamkin said. “If a patient knows that a negative report from her physician will cause her insurance costs to skyrocket, she may be less honest with her doctor about her health behaviors.”
Professor Lamkin joined The University of Tulsa College of Law in 2013. Prior to entering academia, he served as a policy advisor to the mayor of Indianapolis, an attorney at one of the world’s largest law firms and a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Law and the Biosciences.
You can read the article, “Physician as Double Agent: Conflicting Duties Arising from Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs,” at the New England Journal of Medicine.