Assemblymember Nazarian’s Consumer Privacy Bill on Wellness Plans Advances through Assembly Health Committee

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

(Sacramento, CA) Today, the Assembly Health Committee advanced AB 648 (10 – 3 vote), expanding consumer privacy in wellness programs by:  

  • Establishing clear requirements on fair collection and use of personal information;
  • Prohibiting intentional discrimination in wellness programs;
  • Requiring transparency in wellness programs, including data usage and enrollee rights under state and federal law;
  • Granting wellness program enrollees the right to review and correct the completeness and accuracy of records about them.

“Wellness programs are promoted as a way to support healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes for participants. However, many come with unspoken tradeoffs as they require participants to give up their personal data, including sensitive personal health information, in exchange for unsupported promises of wellness,” explained Assemblymember Nazarian. “For many enrollees, the type of surveillance that comes with a wellness program may seem like more than they signed up for.”

Dena Mendelsohn, Senior Policy Counsel at Consumer Reports, added that “People enroll in wellness programs to improve their health. They don't intend to have their personal information released for targeted marketing or used against them when they apply for insurance. We are proud to sponsor this bill that makes wellness programs a safer, fairer deal.”

Current state and federal laws on wellness programs are inadequate and fall short of protecting consumer privacy. Moreover, they are unevenly applied as they depend on the structure and operator of the wellness program.

Even worse, large databases containing health information are an attractive target for hackers which could result in medical identity theft or personal health information being sold to data brokers. Likewise, the data collected by wellness programs can be misused for purposes unrelated to promoting enrollee wellness, including secondary use and sale.

AB 648 does not ban wellness programs but builds upon California’s commitment to existing consumer privacy protections. It also sheds light on the misleading realities of current wellness programs operated by employers, healthcare service providers, and insurers.

The measure now heads to the Assembly Committee on Labor where it is scheduled for a vote next week.  

Adrin Nazarian represents the 46th Assembly District, serving the San Fernando Valley communities of Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Universal City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village