March 26 2013
Posted by Chris Woodward (American Family News)
An author and commentator says we can thank government intrusion for the fact that CVS is telling its employees to reveal personal health information – or pay up.
The retail pharmacy company, CVS Caremark, recently instructed its employees to get a “health screening and wellness review” by May 1, at company expense. The information being requested includes things like height, weight, blood pressure, and body fat percentage.
CVS says the information will go to a third party that oversees the company's benefits. The company maintains it will not be able to access employee health records.
According to the Boston Herald, employees must sign a form claiming the screening is voluntary. Those who choose not to participate will be subject to an annual penalty of $600 ($50/month) for health coverage.
In a statement released last week, CVS Caremark explained the rationale behind the additional cost: “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.”
Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women's Forum, says this is part of the new world in which Americans live.
"This is a problem when the government is mandating [that] employers must have this relationship with their employees, and that all of a sudden workers' health becomes a huge, important part of a business's bottom line,” she tells American Family News. “I think it's a shame. I don't think it should be this way, but this is the new world we are in when everybody's health is everybody else's business."
(IWF's Hadley Heath appeared on Fox News and discussed the CVS plan)
Lukas points out that those workers do have an option of leaving. "That's no fun, especially in an economy like ours; but again, this is the cost,” she offers.
“This is what we're dealing with when government is really setting the rules and forcing employers to spend more and more on healthcare. We’ve got to expect employers to start meddling a lot more in the private lives of their workers."
The founder of the non-profit group Patient Privacy Rights told the Herald the CVS request is “an incredibly coercive and invasive thing” to ask of its employees.
“Rising healthcare costs are killing the economy, and businesses are terrified,” said Dr. Deborah Peel. “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.”
CVS says its wellness program “is designed to help employees make the best decisions about their own healthcare.”