By Dean L. Jones, CPM
It is here and everyone knew that more wellness programs would spring up as a result of the pending affordable health care act going into effect, and not surprisingly employers would figure out a way to make money in the bargain. CVS Pharmacy is getting the ball rolling as a private corporation with its new policy that requires every one of its nearly 200,000 employees who use its health plan to submit their weight, body fat, glucose levels and other vitals or pay extra money each month.
For those employees who agree to the medical testing will see no change in their health insurance rates, but those who refuse to be tested will have to pay an extra $50 per month ($600 per year) for the company’s health insurance program. The basic recording of your vitals with a registered doctor sounds like no big deal. Except, even though CVS says they would never see the test results, on the surface the medical confidentiality has the appearance to be quite questionable. For the reason that CVS clearly would eventually want to do something with that information, particularly if the employee’s vital signs lean toward extremely bad health.
There is a considerable amount of hypocrisy on the part of CVS to administer such a program when the very merchandise that they are in the business to sell is among the most harmful to good health. In addition to the inexpensive tobacco and alcohol products that CVS carries, it also sells a considerable amount of salt and sugar packed items. CVS sells a lot of products that contain a known cancer causing carcinogenic chemical called aspartame. Candy sales are something CVS practices to lure customers into the store. Sugary cereals can be found at a child’s eye level on well positioned isles. So, if this new wellness policy is healthy living motivated, then why is CVS management being the commercial bearer for packaged products that can make you sick?
CVS calls this plan a benefits program to help its employees take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs. Their reported goal with this program is to end up with a healthier work force thus having medical costs to the employer to be less money. Since CVS insists that the use of health screenings by employer-sponsored health plans is a common practice, it should look at their product offerings and see if that is a common health practice. Where’s the fresh fruit and vegetable section?
Broward County Florida charges an extra $40 per month for health insurance when employees decline from taking the health screening. This wellness program was challenged in court under the Americans with Disabilities Act as making unreasonable medical inquires of its employees. This carefully filed wellness program court case was ruled totally legal, so stay healthy.
Dean Jones, Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributes his view on health attributes of packaged foods & beverages.