CVS stirs up controversy

Many RetailWire panelists agreed with my point of view about CVS and its announced policy to charge a higher health care premium to employees who do not disclose health and weight issues. Beyond the legal aspects of privacy policies lies the broader issue of whether this is smart PR for a company in the healthcare business. Here’s my opinion:

I understand the merits of a healthier population bringing down the cost of health care and insurance, but in this case and similar ones the real issue is privacy. The punitive aspect of the policy (the extra $50 premium per month) might or might not stand up to the privacy guidelines in HIPAA and other legislation — somebody with more expertise would need to weigh in (so to speak) on that subject.

Does CVS intend merely to punish employees who don’t subject themselves to the health screenings, or do they plan to provide incentives (in the form of lower premiums) to those who lose weight, manage their cholesterol, and otherwise improve their health profile? I’m skeptical on the second possibility.

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