Man Watching An Employee Work Via A Closed-circuit Video Monitor

A recent article in Forbes raises an interesting question; under what circumstances would you be willing to let your employer or insurance company have access to your personal fitness tracker data?

This is no longer a hypothetical question, as large, self-insured corporations such as BP have given employees free Health Tech devices in return for monitoring the data that they produce. In BP’s case, they offered the employees an incentive if they managed to log a million steps in 2013. The incentive was in the form of a lower insurance premium, according to the article.

Currently, most health insurance programs rate their customers on an annual basis (and the rates usually go up). But imagine if they had access to your health and fitness data on a daily basis. They could rate your premium based on your actual behavior. Exercise and eat right to get a lower premium. But the carrot can also be a stick; don’t exercise and make what the insurance company determines to be poor diet choices and you could see your premiums go up and up.

Most fitness trackers at this point only record simple metrics, such as steps taken or distance traveled. Products are under development, however, that can just as easily include heart and respiration rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, or maybe even blood alcohol levels. Certainly, when this information is gathered from a large population on a regular basis over a long period of time and paired with healthcare records, employers and insurance companies would be far better equipped to predict who would be the most costly employees in terms of health care and lost productivity.

Before long, you may have to face this choice if you want to work for a certain company, or get health insurance from a certain provider. Initially it may be a choice, such as Progressive’s “black box” that monitors your driving habits. But some companies are likely to make it mandatory sooner than later, especially if it provides a way to help control health insurance costs.

Would you let your employer or insurance company have access to your fitness tracker data? What incentives — or disincentives — would affect your decision?