Companies Asking for More Info on Employees
As health care costs continue to skyrocket, companies are taking further steps to keep them under control. Now, CVS Pharmacy is causing controversy by announcing it will fine employees who don't submit their weight, body fat, sugar levels and other vital information. "This is the first time that a company has come out and actively stated they're taking punitive action against employees that may not be participating in health screenings and proactively taking care of their health," says Betty Murray, a Dallas-based certified nutritionist. Specifically, CVS says employees who don't get the screenings by May 1, 2014 will pay an extra $50 a month for their health coverage.
The new policy has outraged some privacy advocates. Deborah Peel from the group Patient Privacy Rights recently called the CVS move "an incredibly coercive and invasive thing to ask employees to do." But CVS officials say it's about improving the health of employees and helping to keep overall health costs under control. Furthermore, the company notes that the screenings are still voluntary and that individual test results are never seen by CVS. Murray agrees, telling KTRH that companies instead use the aggregate data to assess the overall health of their workforce. "From a privacy standpoint, as long as they're using an outside company and aggregating the data, (other companies) have already been doing that," she says.
Overall, Murray feels policies like this are simply an outgrowth of our employer-based healthcare system. "We have really made corporate America responsible for Americans' health," she says. "One of the biggest bottom lines on payrolls of companies is the healthcare expense the company takes on for their employees." Thus, she says workers should get used to these types of new rules as healthcare costs continue to rise. "This is probably a trend that's going to continue," she says. "Because companies are carrying the financial burden for Americans' health."