“Rising health care costs are killing the economy, and businesses are terrified. 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.” Patient Privacy Rights founder, Dr. Deborah Peel
Did you get the memo? If you are one of CVS’s 200,000 employees, your head must be reeling at the thought of having to surrender your medical privacy to avoid paying punitive fines.
According to the Boston Herald, employees who use the pharmaceutical chain’s health coverage are being required to “voluntarily” (emphasis mine) submit their weight, BMI, blood pressure, and glucose levels-or pay an additional $50.00 a month for health insurance. Employees have until May 1st to “voluntarily” see a doctor for a wellness screening paid for by the company. Employees must sign a form saying the screening is “voluntary”, and that the insurer can give test results to WebMD Health Services Group, a company that provides health management programs and benefit support to CVS. The company has dubbed the request “a health screening and wellness review so that colleagues know their key health metrics in order to take action to improve their numbers, if necessary. Their mandatory “voluntary” policy has angered employees and privacy advocates alike.
“This is an incredibly coercive and invasive thing to ask employees to do,” states Dr. Deborah Peel. Dr. Peel’s rebuttal on this privacy invasion is clear:
“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”.
As more and more businesses are affected by rising insurance costs for it’s employees, there is a fear that this intrusion into patients’ medical history will be used as a tool to discriminate against those workers with health issues. Rightly so.
“It’s technology-enhanced discrimination on steroids,” Peel said.
CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis said the program was designed “to help our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs.” DeAngelis also stated, “According to a National Business Group on Health survey, 79 percent of employers offered a health assessment in 2011 and 76 percent of those employers offered incentives for completion.”
An incentive. Isn’t that a reward? Like, giving a dog a bone for sitting. Or, rewarding a toddler for “going potty.” How about giving a bonus for a job well done? It is hard to imagine that CVS employees feel that the possibility of $600.00 a year coming out of their paychecks is an incentive. An incentive for better health, CVS, is not an additional financial burden for workers who would like their private medical history to remain private.