A new policy for employees of CVS Pharmacy will have them reporting their weight, body fat and other health metrics — or they can pay a fine that could add up to $600 each year. Privacy advocates are not happy about it.
According to the Boston Herald, Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of the advocacy group Patient Privacy Rights, said the increasing cost of health care will only make policies like this more common.
“Rising health care costs are killing the economy, and businesses are terrified,” Peel said. “Now, we’re all in this terrible situation where employers are desperate to get rid of workers who have costly health conditions, like obesity and diabetes.”
To ABC’s Good Morning America, Peel called the practice “technology-enhanced discrimination on steroids.”
According to reports, the new policy requires employees of the pharmacy to have a doctor record their weight, height, body fat, blood pressure, blood glucose and other measurement by May 1, 2014. If the employee opts out of providing this information, they would be fined an additional $50 each month for insurance, adding up to $600 per year. The Boston Herald reported CVS saying it would pay for these evaluations.
Watch this report about the new policy:
CVS issued a statement about the policy Wednesday (emphasis added):
“We want to help our employees to be as healthy as they can be, which is why we decided to implement this plan. In fact, we have been working for a number of years on ways they can improve their health through preventive measures. Healthcare programs that incent employees to be healthier are not new. Many companies around the country already have plans similar to the one we are implementing. In fact, 79% of large employers have health assessments incorporated into their programs. To encourage a higher level of participation in our wellness review, we reviewed best practices and determined that an additional cost for those who do not complete the review was the most effective way to incent our colleagues to improve their health care and manage health costs.
“CVS Caremark is committed to providing medical coverage and healthcare programs for our colleagues and privacy is rigorously protected, consistent with HIPAA regulations. All personal health data from these screenings are collected and reviewed by a third-party administrator that supports the CVS Caremark Wellness Program, and this data is not shared with CVS Caremark — rather it is designed to help employees make the best decisions about their own healthcare.”
Although employees are not being forced to provide this information to their employer, Peel told the Boston Herald the $600/year penalty for avoiding it hardly makes it a voluntary program for some.