A new policy at CVS requires all employees who use the company’s health care to report their weight, glucose levels, and body fat to their insurer, or pay a penalty of $600 dollars — a hefty sum for many of the low-wage staff in the chain pharmacy’s stores.
The rule mimics other efforts provide incentives for healthy behavior, like the discount that Whole Foods employees get based on their Body Mass Index. But patient privacy advocates have serious qualms with the effort:
“This is an incredibly coercive and invasive thing to ask employees to do,” said Patient Privacy Rights founder Dr. Deborah Peel, adding that mounting health care costs have made these policies increasingly common.[…]
But in exchange, workers must sign a form saying the screening is voluntary, and that the insurer can give test results to WebMD Health Services Group. The firm provides health management programs and benefit support to CVS.
If workers don’t sign up, their medical coverage will jump by $50 a month.
CVS insists that it will not have access to the data.
Leaving aside the privacy implications, the new policy could end up penalizing low-income Americans who are already stretched too thin. A minimum wage worker putting in a 40-hour workweek makes about $1,160 a month. A fine of $50 a month is a huge amount for a minimum wage CVS employee to fork over if they consider the measure a privacy infringement, especially given the fact that American workers’ health care costs are rising while their wages are stagnating. It may be a smart business move to CVS to try to lower costs, but it’s at the expense of their workers’ interests.