The Corner

Politics & Policy

Republicans Push Coerced Genetic Testing Bill

“Wellness” and health are becoming spear points wielded by big government and big business to invade our privacy and coerce us into living “healthy” lifestyles. 

And now it is Republicans leading the privacy invasion. A bill has passed its first committee vote that would allow businesses to coerce their employees to be genetically tested for wellness programs by allowing employers to charge refuseniks more for health insurance than those who comply. 

I write about that and the general problem over at First Things in my biweekly column. From, “Your ‘Wellness’ or Your Freedom:”

The Republican-backed and Orwellian-titled “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act” (how does preventing coercion around genetic testing inhibit companies from establishing wellness programs?) would erase those crucial privacy protections by permitting employers to charge workers a higher cost for their health insurance as a quasi-punishment for refusing to give up their genetic privacy. Talk about empowering large institutions over the individual!

The bill would maintain existing privacy protections on the use of such information and would supposedly ensure that the data derived be presented only in the aggregate, not in an individualized format. But as tens of millions of victims—ranging from Yahoo! users to female marines—have learned, in the contemporary world true privacy can never be guaranteed.

Once personal information is launched into cyberspace, unauthorized access is often just a matter of time and opportunity.

I get into how smoking was combated in this fashion, and now we see obesity being attacked, with other efforts also underway to herd us–for our own good, of course–into officially approved lifestyles.

But note, to the wellness meddler, all unhealthy lifestyles are not created equal. Thus, promiscuity is not fought in the same fashion or with the same zeal as smoking or overeating, even though the expensive deleterious health impacts can hit much quicker than smoking or obesity.

I conclude:

When I was a kid, if my mother caught me snooping into our neighbors’ lives, she would yell at me to “MYOB!” (mind your own business). It’s time for the government and our employers to listen to my mother. If today’s trends continue, our freedom could be strangled by bureaucratic lifestyle management.

Obamacare was big into this meme. But Republicans should know better.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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