CVS health insurance policy fueling debate

March 20, 2013 3:38:06 PM PDT
The CVS Drug Store chain is fueling an explosive debate over a health insurance policy which has employers checking employees' weight and body fat percentage.

The corporation said the information will remain private and that the policy is meant as an incentive so that their employees will be as healthy as they can be, but many are concerned that the company will have access to the information and could use it against their employees.

Submit to weight, BMI and glucose testing by May 1 or pay more in out of pocket health insurance costs. That's the policy CVS Pharmacy's nearly 200,000 employees now face.

"It's too much to get into your privacy, that's how I feel about it," said Steve Suhs. "I'm a big guy, so I don't like to hear about that either."

According to an internal CVS document provided to ABC7 anonymously by an employee, "Colleagues who take action to stay healthy or improve their health, and get results, will be rewarded. Those who don't take accountability will have to pay more in the future."

But CVS is not alone. A lot of private companies now do that. And starting last year city of Chicago employees were given the same requirement in an attempt to control spiraling health care costs.

"Our company does that now," said Thomas Gjondla. "I don't have a problem with it, helps keep people know they're not unhealthy."

CVS says the information will remain private, but this type of policy raises legal implications.

"It really is a balancing act though because you want to make sure you're protecting patients, employees, privacy rights and that they're not being discriminated against," said Sarah Blenner, Chicago Kent College of Law.

Some call it a bully tactic. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Chicago area CVS employee told ABC7, "I have nothing to hide, but I feel they're invading my privacy. This is something between me and my physician. I believe they're doing this as a way to eventually raise our premiums so much that will make it impossible to pay our insurance. We can do better."

A spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the policy has worked for the city, and that in the last year they saved over $20 million in health care costs as a result.