CVS to employees: give us health information or pay fine

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by Kristine Harrington

Bio | Email | Follow: @kharrington3tv

azfamily.com

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 24 at 12:55 PM

PHOENIX -- Some Arizona businesses are starting to make employees pay for unhealthy habits such as smoking.

But one pharmacy chain is taking it further.

CVS Caremark wants numbers from a scale and from your blood stream, and employees who refuse will be fined.

It's a trend we're seeing nationwide as more companies are looking for ways to lower the cost of healthcare.

But some worry their health record could be used against them.

“If you just give someone a health insurance card that is not going to make them automatically healthy,” said Pete Wertheim with the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

It's the reason why CVS Caremark is asking its 200,000 employees nationwide to disclose personal health information, including their weight, or pay a $600 a year fine.

“We focus so much on sick care but well care is equally important and we need to shift the emphasis from hospital visits to taking on personal responsibility and taking control of your health,” said Wertheim. “Insurance plans have tried for years to incentivize and provide inspiration and empower patients to take better care of themselves.”

The CVS health screening is optional, however there is a $50 a month penalty for opting out.

“It might not be the right thing to do but definitely legal,” said labor attorney Matt Fendon.

"All personal health data from these screenings are collected and reviewed by a third party administrator. This data is not shared with CVS Caremark - rather it is designed to help employees make the best decisions about their own health care," CVS said. 

And experts say you should expect more not less of these sorts of policies being adopted in companies all across the country in an effort to keep health care cost from climbing.

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Full statement from CVS:

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.

Health care 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 percent 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 health care 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 health care.

*Source: National Business Group on Health
 

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