Pharmacy to workers: join “voluntary” wellness program or face fine

CVS pharmacies are asking all employees to take part in a “voluntary” wellness program that requires workers to report their weight and body fat percentages (among other indicators) to their health insurer.

Those who choose not to participate in the program face a $600 noncompliance penalty.

How’s that for “voluntary?”

CVS Caremark, which has 200,000 employees, told all workers who use the company health insurance plan to have a physician determine their weight, height, body fat, blood pressure and glucose and fasting lipid levels by May 1, according to a Boston Herald article.

CVS will pay for the screenings. But in exchange, workers must sign a waiver indicating the screening is voluntary and giving the insurer permission to hand over the information to a firm that provides health management programs to CVS, according to the article.

Those who don’t sign up will see their medical coverage increase by $50 a month.

Patient privacy groups question how voluntary a program is (particularly for a low- or medium-wage employee) if it includes penalties for not participating.

CVS spokesman Michael D’Angelis defended the policy, telling the Boston Herald, “Our benefits program is evolving to help our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs.”

According to the spokesman, CVS supervisors won’t be able to access workers’ personal health records. The third party administrator keeps all health data private, he said.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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