Pharmacy chain asking employees to pass a physical

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CVS is now asking its employees to have a doctor measure their height, weight, body fat, blood pressure and other health indicators and have those numbers submitted to the insurance provider. And, if employees refuse to permit that information to be submitted, they may be subject to a fee of $600.

Michael DeAngelis, a CVS spokesman, says that this voluntary wellness review is meant as a way to help employees improve their health. Following these initial screenings, employees will know in what areas they need to improve. DeAngelis adds that this policy is common practice: According to a study conducted by the National Business Group on Health, 80 percent of employers conducted similar health assessments in 2011 and three quarters of those employers (i.e., about 60 percent) provided incentives for completing the assessment. However, according to a survey conducted by Kaiser in 2012, only 18 percent of those employers financially penalized the employees if they chose not to complete the assessment. Doesn t really seem like common practice. And although this may be spun into an employee benefit program, what it comes down to is that fewer unhealthy employees really means cost savings for the company.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross had this perspective: This is not as clear-cut an issue as initially thought, at least my initial thoughts. At first, this seemed like an obvious discriminatory assault on workers who may be heavier than ideal. From the point of view of the employer, the new healthcare law (Obamacare) has already led to significant increases in health insurance costs for businesses of all sizes, and it will get worse next year when fully implemented. Corporate bean-counters are seeking newer ways to cut down on such costs, and forcing workers to either toe the better health behaviors line or pay a penalty will become more widespread. And that s their right, too. The real problem is: where will they draw the line on intrusiveness into employees personal behaviors and health history?