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CVS requires employees to get health screening to save on insurance

ALBANY -- CVS told employees recently it would charge a $50 monthly surcharge for its sponsored health insurance if employees don’t get a health screening. About half the employers in New York are self-insured, meaning they take on the risk of health insurance themselves.

“They have more flexibility in designing their health insurance program, what the benefits are, what the restrictions are and what the payment and co-payment will be,” said Paul Macielak with the New York Health Plan Association.

Some of the benefits offered include discounts for not smoking. Other employers offer bonuses for losing weight. CVS is unique in charging a fee for not getting a wellness exam and others could follow with their own fees if this push is successful.

“There are possibilities that other experienced rating that the personal attributes of that person could affect how much their premium charged in a self-insured status,” said Macielak. “I think it's a positive thing and in some companies a joint effort for employees and management working together because I think they both recognize there's a financial benefit for the two of them because the premium is going to go Up for the employers and the employee as well”

CVS has said information would be maintained by a third-party and it would not have access to the data, however patients are advised to take caution if participating in a screening.

“My advice would be to read the forms provided to employees carefully and determine whether they are authorizing any use of or disclosure of their health information,” said Michael Deyo, an attorney with Iseman, Cunningham, Riester and Hyde, which provides HIPAA advice to hospitals. “If the information is being collected by a third-party administrator then it is subjected to HIPAA and it cannot be shared with CVS as an employer unless the patient authorizes that disclosure.”

Most health screenings ask about healthy habits and check weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, while avoiding some in-depth topics reserved for personal physicians.

“A red flag is asking about family medical history,” said Macielak. “That starts to get closer to genetic history of a family, so I think that is a legal question lawyers would be sensitive to ask.”