(ABC NEWS) -- A new policy by CVS Pharmacy 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 a monthly fine.
Employees who agree to this testing will see no change in their health insurance rates, but those who refuse will have to pay an extra $50 per month — or $600 per year — for the company’s health insurance program. All employees have until May 1, 2014, to make an appointment with a doctor and record their vitals.
“The approach they’re taking is based on the assumption that somehow these people need a whip, they need to be penalized in order to make themselves healthy,” Patient Privacy Rights founder Dr. Deborah Peel said.
Critics are calling the policy coercion, and worrying that CVS or any other company might start firing sick workers.
“It’s technology-enhanced discrimination on steroids,” Peel said.
The policy change was introduced to employees in a memo highlighting the change in the health insurance plan.
CVS, which is based in Rhode Island, said the health screening was voluntary and the company would never see the test results. In an email to ABC News, CVS explained that its “benefits program is evolving to help our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health-associated costs.
“The goal of these kinds of programs is to end up with a healthier work force. If your employees are healthy they’re going to work better and they’re going to cost the employer a lot less money,” ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said.
CVS insists that the use of health screenings by employer-sponsored health plans is a common practice. A quick search of the Internet shows many websites and message boards filled with questions from families asking if similar programs and policies are legal.
Brad Seff, a former Broward County, Fla., employee, learned the hard way that it is legal, according to one court. Seff sued the county in April 2011 after it charged him an extra $40 per month for health insurance after he refused health screenings.
In the suit, Seff said the wellness program violated the Americans With Disabilities Act because the county was making medical inquires of its employees. Seff lost his suit.
“I’m so disgusted. I moved. I left the state,” Seff told ABC News by phone.
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