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Home » Uncategorized » The worst wellness story of all time: harassing a double-mastectomy patient to get a mammogram

The worst wellness story of all time: harassing a double-mastectomy patient to get a mammogram

Do you know whether heartburn pills are safe for long-term use?

The Yale wellness program (the one being sued) is exemplary in its adherence to guidelines. Were this program offered with a $100 incentive instead of a $1300 fine, and/or were Quizzify offered as an alternative to the screening/coaching requirement, I would nominate it for a Health Value Award.

Their Achilles heel is using Healthmine as their wellness vendor, no doubt because Healthmine apparently failed to disclose to Yale that they don’t know anything about wellness. Consequently the following happened on their watch, as described in the Complaint, which I can send you on request. (I don’t think it’s online.)

Christine [Name withheld, but in Complaint], a 57-year-old first cook and a member of Local 35, explained that she is participating in the HEP because she is a single mother who is paying for her child’s college and the $25 per week fine is “the cost of my kid’s books for an entire semester.” To her, paying the $25 per week fine would be a “needless expense,” particularly when she has other pressures such as saving for retirement. Christine said she feels “forced” to participate
in the HEP.

Christine’s experience with the Program has been burdensome and emotionally fraught. The HEP requires female participants over age 50 to undergo a mammogram. Christine  previously underwent a double mastectomy when battling cancer and therefore could not comply  with the HEP requirement to have a mammogram. As a result, an HEP representative contacted her “several times,” asked about her mammogram results, and told her she would be held in non-compliance and charged the $25 per week fine if she did not get one.




  1. Sam Lippe says:

    I thought it was impossible for wellness vendors to shock me any more. I was wrong.


  2. williammcpeck says:

    Unless the HRA/screening system has a way for the employee to indicate that they have had a double mastectomy, we are not looking at a system failure here. The system algorithm identified her correctly based on age and gender. But when she told the HEP representative that she had a double mastectomy, surely the light should have come on and the HEP representative should have manually overridden the algorithm so she was not penalized. There is a reason why our field says that high tech also needs to include high touch. We seem to overlook the human side of wellness far too often today.


    • Elizabeth Koniz says:

      Wow, @williamcpeck, you’re clearly emotionally stunted. Go out and have your penis partially surgically removed, then replace it with a piece of garden hose, then talk to the rest of us double mastectomy patients about what’s ok.


      • williammcpeck says:

        Elizabeth, please show me in my post where I said it was OK the way this employee was treated. It is clearly obviously not.


  3. Glenna Crooks says:

    Let me see…a working single Mom paying for a kid’s college and she gets interrupted during her busy day and then threatened with a fine? Seems to me she’s owed compensation for lost time, hassle factor and likely pain and suffering at having to recall a double mastectomy and talk about it with a stranger on several occasions. If she was my employee, I’d be requiring that of the wellness vendor. No way I’d want one of my employees treated that way.

    Years ago, after writing my covenants book, I was asked by a trade group if wellness vendors should take an oath – like the ones physicians, nurses and pharmacists do. I said ‘yes,’ that it was important to be able to assure others they knew what they were doing, took it seriously enough, and were willing to enter into that type of agreement which, as it turns out, is far more consequential than contracts.

    Had the vendor taken an oath, this would be a clear violation.

    I was asked to create an Oath for Digital Health and it’s done. Anyone who’d like can be in touch for a copy. It will premier in Houston at the end of this month.


  4. […] My thanks to Al Lewis of for bringing this story to my attention. […]


  5. […] sued Yale, for example, due to the psychological and physical harms of their program. One Yale breast cancer survivor was almost forced into getting a mammogram, even though she had already undergone a double mastectomy. Had it not been for […]


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