A recent policy change is raising the eyebrows of more than a few CVS Pharmacy employees. The policy change relates to the employee health insurance program. About 200,000 CVS employees receive health benefits through their employer. The new policy requires each of those employees to submit to a wellness screening or face a $50 per month penalty on their insurance premium.
Before May 14, CVS employees are required to keep an appointment with a physician who can perform a WebMD Wellness Review. The check up will include tests for common health concerns like cholesterol, blood sugar, body mass, body weight and blood pressure. Test results must then be submitted to the employer, though CVS insists that the company will not be reviewing the test results, nor will there be any penalties for unfavorable results.
Instead, CVS states that they are motivated by increasing the wellness factor among its employees. As Dr. Richard Besser, the chief health and medical editor for ABC News, notes: “If your employees are healthy they’re going to work better and they’re going to cost the employer a lot less money.”
Such programs are not new. Many health plans require regular screenings. However, this new CVS policy does have some distinctive differences. While CVS officials declare that participation is “voluntary,” the stiff penalties for not participating suggest otherwise. Many employer sponsored health plans that ask for screenings do so on an incentive basis in which an employee is rewarded for participation. This new CVS policy is much more penalty based and carries a negative connotation.
The spokesperson for Patient Privacy Rights calls the policy a “coercive and blunt” tactic that is based on the notion that workers “need to be penalized in order to make themselves healthy.” Peel worries that the plan is actually “technology-enhanced discrimination” that will lead to the firing of ailing employees.
Though it is controversial, CVS appears to be moving forward with the policy. Time alone will tell if the policy leads to a healthier workforce and whether or not CVS intends to make personnel decisions based on worker health.