WOONSOCKET, R.I. (CBS Connecticut) — CVS Caremark, the company behind the national chain of pharmacies that employs over 200,000 people, has come under fire after reportedly instituting a new and invasive policy regarding its health coverage plan.
The rule change pertains to the information requested in order to qualify for health insurance coverage through the company, according to the Boston Herald. Personal statistics such as body fat, weight and glucose levels are all considered mandatory disclosures under the new guidelines.
And for those who do not wish to offer up such information, they must pay $600 per year in penalties.
The company policy is reportedly referred to as “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.”
And now, data privacy group Patient Privacy Rights has spoken out against the new practice.
“This is an incredibly coercive and invasive thing to ask employees to do,” Patient Privacy Rights founder Dr. Deborah Peel told the Boston Herald.
She added, “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.”
CVS officials stand by the decision to implement the rule, however.
“Our benefits program is evolving to help our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs,” Michael D’Angelis, a spokesman for CVS, told the Herald, adding that the information will not be made readily available to supervisors or other parties who do not need to know it.
He explained, “All personal health data is kept private by our wellness program’s third party administrator and is never shared with CVS Caremark.”
The screenings will reportedly be paid for by CVS. However, if employees opt out, they will have to pay $50 more per month for health insurance. The added fees are especially a point of contention for those who don’t approve of the practice.
Peel asked, ““How is [the cost] voluntary if you are a low- or medium- wage person?”
The Herald is reporting that employees must have a medical official collect the data by May 1.