Now that many young people have voluntarily surrendered what little remaining privacy they have to Facebook social media, it’s natural to make a move on the notion that there is any such thing as privacy in matters pertaining to lifestyle personal health:

Tobacco users consume about 25 percent more healthcare services than non-tobacco users, says Greg Rossiter, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, which insures more than 1 million people, including family members. “The decisions aren’t easy, but we need to balance costs and provide quality coverage.”

For decades, workers – especially with large employers – have taken many health benefits for granted and until the past few years hardly noticed the price increases.

But the new policies could not only badly dent their take home pay and benefits but also reduce their freedom to behave as they want outside of work and make them resentful toward their employers. There are also fears the trend will hurt the lower-paid hardest as health costs can eat up a bigger slice of their disposable income and because they may not have much access to gyms and fresh food in their neighborhoods.

“It’s not inherently wrong to hold people responsible,” says Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, a research and advocacy organization on employment issues based in Princeton, New Jersey. “But it’s a dangerous precedent,” he says. “Everything you do in your personal private life affects your health.”

And if everything you do in your personal private life affects your health, then everything you do in your personal private life affects everyone else.

Your privacy is our business. Welcome to the brave new world of big government corporatist/socialist statism. (Sorry for the quintuple redundancy there.)

Sure it’s “private,” but in the world of “risk assessment,” the lines are so blurred the word means little or nothing:

Like Wal-Mart, more employers are coming down harder on individuals who have voluntarily identified themselves as tobacco users, often during their health risk assessment. As yet, very few employers identify smokers through on-site medical screenings.

Veridian, which until now has not charged its employees for healthcare premiums, says increases to its health care costs have been unsustainable, climbing 9 percent annually for the past three years. Earlier this year, it rolled out a wellness program and free screenings, which 90 percent of workers have now completed.

As it starts charging, it will provide discounts to those making progress as it “wants to reward those who have healthy lifestyles,” says Renee Christoffer, senior vice president of administration for the credit union.

Mark Koppedryer, vice president of branches at Veridian, was one of the workers who participated in the screenings. The 37-year-old father of three initially participated to show his support but was shocked to find out that he had elevated blood pressure and cholesterol scores.

His colleague, Stacy Phillips, says she used the new wellness programs to exercise more. “I knew there needed to be a change in my life,” says the 35-year-old, who has lost 40 pounds since January. “This made me more aware that at some time there would be a cost.”

It isn’t your business anymore. Your health is ours. We are all at risk! Because of you!

After all, insurance premiums are soaring. Clearly, something must be done. And if that something involves invading your privacy, perhaps we need to rethink the whole outdated privacy “issue.”

It’s about “costs,” doncha know? Never mind how much it costs to implement the ADA, what matters now is that you ordinary working stiffs have become too damned expensive!

These changes come at a time when health insurance premiums are soaring. In 2011, the average-cost of an employer-provided family plan was more than $15,000, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. That’s 31 percent higher than five years ago. And the number is expected to climb another 5-8 percent next year, according to various estimates.

In contrast, the giant medical and research center Cleveland Clinic, which employs about 40,000 people, has seen these costs grow by only 2 percent this year because it has implemented a comprehensive wellness program that has dramatically improved the health of many workers.

The effort began several years when it banned smoking at the medical center and then refused to hire smokers. It later recognized that having a gym and weight loss classes wasn’t enough to get people to participate. It made these facilities and programs free and provided lower premiums to workers who maintained their health or improved it, typically with their doctor’s help.

“You don’t do this overnight,” says Paul Terpeluk, Medical Director of Occupational Health at the Cleveland Clinic. You have to develop a program and change the culture, he said.

Meanwhile, every parking lot and every public street still has to have preferential parking for the victims of the old culture.

No more.

The new culture demands that everyone be made to ride a bicycle.

All hail the year zero!