CVS healthcare program sparks debate locally and nationally

CVS healthcare program sparks debate locally and nationally

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By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Should you pay more for health insurance if you aren't willing to reveal your weight, height and blood pressure, among other things?

The drug store chain CVS is fueling a national debate over the right to privacy in the workplace.

They say employees must visit a doctor and release that information. If not, you pay an extra $600 a year for health insurance.

Several companies today find ways to encourage their employees to be healthy.

But this choice being offered by CVS to their staff raises the question-how much is too much?

At UT Medical Center they offer a variety of ways to help their staff say healthy, an assortment of healthy food at the cafeteria, and a cheap gym membership among other things.
"Our whole goal is to promote a healthy environment," explained Rhonda McAnally, who works at the hospital.

She says staff can work with health counselors to achieve their physical goals.

"We use biometric screenings, height, weight, blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol screenings," she explained, about the tools they use to help employees.

But if an employee decides they don't want to take advantage of what's offered, there are no consequences.

At CVS, company officials say those who use the company's healthcare have until May 1, 2014 to visit a doctor and measure weight, height, blood pressure and other levels.

If you don't, you pay an extra $600 a year.

"It's getting mixed reviews," said one Knoxville CVS employee who did not want his identity revealed.

He says it's a major topic of conversation at work.

"They're worried that they are going to use it against them," he said, about employees opposed to the idea.

"The other side pretty much thinks it's a good way to get people in the workplace healthier," he said, about those for the idea.

CVS says it's "benefits program is evolving to help our colleagues take more responsibility for improving their health and managing health associated costs."

Those in health administration say a focus on physical well-being is increasingly becoming a priority for companies.

"We know there needs to be a cultural change in America. Obesity is one of the largest things we have to tackle," McAnally said.

CVS says the program is voluntary.

However, you obviously pay more if you don't do it.

They also say they don't actually see the test results, because those numbers are sent to an independent company.

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