As employers push to control rising health care costs through various programs to reward healthy lifestyles and pass on expenses to smokers and those with uncontrolled health problems, a group of Penn State University employees are questioning whether their boss has gone too far. Starting in January, Penn State’s program will penalize employees and covered spouses $100 a month if they do not complete a health questionnaire and certify they will undergo a physical exam. And smokers will face an additional $75 monthly surcharge. To avoid penalties, insureds must undergo health screenings for chronic conditions, including tests for cholesterol and blood sugar and body fat indexes. Penn State says it will not have access to identifiable individual data, only aggregate statistics. Opponents have started petitions and call it ‘legalized extortion.’

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