Trends in Healthcare- CVS and the Wellness Program

       Times are changing in the world of healthcare.  Nothing demonstrates that more than recent news from CVS. 

       In case you haven’t heard by now, CVS just announced they will implement a “voluntary” Wellness Program for it’s employees.  The program will require employees to either fill out a health screening questionnaire including a disclosure of their weight or pay a $50 surcharge per month. 

       Normally my knee-jerk reaction would be that CVS is being, well CVS.  I’d consider them utterly reprehensible and complain about their unfair treatment towards their employees. 

       But unfortunately for workers in the United States, this move by CVS is a growing trend.  Companies are now treating obesity like smoking.  And they’re making patients pay for it.  Fair or not, this is our new reality.

        Company providing health insurance are realizing that obesity is a high risk group just like smokers.  This means that an employer like CVS wants to know what percentage of it’s employees are in these high risk groups. 

       The trend now is that employees may have to answer questions or even undergo some sort of health screening requirement to get the best health insurance rates.  And what if something is wrong?  Well, that might just cost you. 

      The entire concept of insurance is based on pooled risk theory.  And employers are realizing that it’s perfectly legal to separate employees based on risk factors such as obesity or smoking and charge those patients accordingly. 

       So what do I think about CVS’s policy?  I don’t like the idea of employees having to jump through hoops to get a preferred health insurance rate.  And I definitely don’t like the idea of being penalized $600/year for not participating in a “voluntary” program.

       It reminds me of the mail-order refill policies that are “voluntary” but come with a significant co-pay reduction versus filling those same maintenance drugs through traditional retail pharmacies.  I’d hardly consider that to be voluntary. 

        The bottom line is that companies are really starting to concern themselves with the health of their employees.  Healthier employees use less healthcare services and miss less work.  And employees that use more healthcare services due to a risk factor such as obesity may have to pay higher rates or a penalty going forward. 

        This new CVS policy is more a sign of the times rather than a reflection of them specifically.  But if this CVS policy becomes the norm at other companies and not the exception, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of us. 

The Redheaded Pharmacist

3 Comments to “Trends in Healthcare- CVS and the Wellness Program”

  1. By Pharmaciststeve, March 22, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

    I will believe that CVS is concerned about the health of our society.. when they stop selling tobacco and alcohol products. Of course, selling those products… makes profits at the store level and continues to cause people who use/abuse these products to need medication… which CVS makes money both at the store level and via their PBM (Caremark).

    It is corporate hypocrisy at its best …


  2. By Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady, March 23, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    I don’t have problem with it. I just think the gym membership perk should come with the new rules.


  3. By Chris, February 15, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

    Interesting to see the first comment, in light of the recent announcement that CVS will stop selling cigarettes, which I applaud. With the 40 some odd million Americans now signing up for health insurance at, have you noticed that some corporations are now increasingly shifting existing employees to part time work and recruiting new employees to part time schedules without health insurance? Health insurance as an offering through one’s employer is disappearing. Employer’s would LOVE to eliminate that cost and responsibility. In ten years, I think there will be more Americans on some government health plan than through their employer. A single payer system is what we may very well end up with anyway, regardless of how we vote at the polls. In theory, that could really simplify our third party claim burden as pharmacists. Smile Like the Redhead Pharmacist, I don’t like employers collecting health information among its employees and using that to make business decisions. How long before they have job ads specifying maximum BMI along with college degree requirements?


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