EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCVS HEALTH POLICY
from Eyewitness News Online
New CVS Policy Requires Employees To Do Health Screenings Or Pay Fine
Reported by: Katy Brown
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: ABC News
Reported: Mar. 20, 2013 10:16 AM EDT
Updated: Mar. 20, 2013 11:38 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A new health insurance policy at one of the largest drug store chains is getting a lot of backlash.
CVS is requiring all employees to report their weight, body fat and glucose levels or they face a $600 penalty each year.
"Your weight affects your health," Eli Rouse, of St. Albans, said.
And that's why CVS is revamping its insurance plan, requiring all its employees to complete a health screening and wellness review.
A doctor must determine the workers' weight, height, body fat, blood pressure, glucose and fasting lipid levels.
It's a move that's getting a mixed review.
"I think West Virginia has more overweight people, and it's a real problem," Rouse said.
While perhaps controversial, Charleston City Manager Dave Molegard said the city has a similar policy in place for its workers, and it's working.
“I think the last time we did this, we found six individuals that were diabetic and didn't know they were diabetic,” Molegard said. “By having to participate in these health assessments, it brings it front and center."
All employees who wish to stay on CVS’s insurance plan must complete a health screening and wellness review by May 1.
The company said it's a move to improve their employees’ health. While some may feel it's intrusive, others said it's necessary in this day and age.
The screening is voluntary and not a requirement. However, if the employee decides not to do the screening, that decision will bump up their medical coverage by $50 each month. The company said the results of the screenings will be kept private.
ABC News reported that a new policy by CVS Pharmacy requires every one of its nearly 200,000 employees who use its health plan to submit their weight, body fat, glucose levels and other vitals or pay a monthly fine.
Employees who agree to this testing will see no change in their health insurance rates, but those who refuse will have to pay an extra $50 per month — or $600 per year — for the company’s health insurance program. All employees have until May 1, 2014, to make an appointment with a doctor and record their vitals.
“The approach they’re taking is based on the assumption that somehow these people need a whip, they need to be penalized in order to make themselves healthy,” said Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights founder.
Critics are calling the policy coercion, and worrying that CVS or any other company might start firing sick workers.
“It’s technology-enhanced discrimination on steroids,” Peel said.
The policy change was introduced to employees in a memo highlighting the change in the health insurance plan.
CVS, which is based in Rhode Island, said the health screening was voluntary and the company would never see the test results. In an email to ABC News, CVS explained that its “benefits program is evolving to help our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs."
“The goal of these kinds of programs is to end up with a healthier work force. If your employees are healthy they’re going to work better and they’re going to cost the employer a lot less money,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor.
CVS insists that the use of health screenings by employer-sponsored health plans is a common practice. A quick search of the Internet shows many websites and message boards filled with questions from families asking if similar programs and policies are legal.
Brad Seff, a former Broward County, Fla., employee, learned the hard way that it is legal, according to one court. Seff sued the county in April 2011 after it charged him an extra $40 per month for health insurance after he refused health screenings.
In the suit, Seff said the wellness program violated the Americans With Disabilities Act because the county was making medical inquires of its employees. Seff lost his suit.
“I’m so disgusted. I moved. I left the state,” Seff told ABC News by phone.
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