Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shame on You, CVS

Under the heading of “Things That Make You Go Hmmm …” is today’s news that CVS has notified employees that they will have to reveal their weight and body fat or be fined $600.

News reporters and legal experts were weighing in on (no pun intended) the issue earlier this morning, and the publicity for CVS is looking pretty bad.

I’m not surprised. With the Centers for Disease Control (2009-2010 data) reporting that nearly 70% of adult Americans are overweight or obese, folks were bound to get upset.

Naturally, CVS has defended its policy, stating that employee information will be collected by a third party and that the company is simply concerned about its’ employees’ health. However, I have to agree with my brilliant brother here who posted this on Linkedin—

“…But if that were the case then it should be used as an incentive, i.e., $600 off of your annual healthcare costs.”

Yeah, she's got the right idea.
Riddle me this if you would.

If you have an employee who has performed for you, done well for you ... how in God’s name can you justify reducing this employee’s pay for refusing to give you his personal information? Especially in this economy? Way to motivate the troops, CVS. This is almost as bad as the mother with twenty-eight years of service who was fired without notice for selling Girl Scout cookies on the job.

I’m just going to say it. This policy sucks.

And I don’t give a rat’s you-know-what what CVS says, we know this is all about the Benjamins, baby. They’re freaking out over healthcare costs (both real and imagined) and looking for ways to manage them. Actively managing expenses is good. But this? Nah. I tend to agree with attorney Esther Panitch who says this is some "slippery slope" CVS is riding. During a Fox News segment this morning she asked, “What are they [CVS] going to do with the information?” Yes, what?

Listen. I’ve written about my battle with Aetna over my “build” (insurance lingo), and you know I’m overweight. But I’m not one of these “fat’s where it’s at” chicks, okay? That’s fine if you are, but I do know I need to lose weight. I’ve got eyes and a good memory (as in, I remember when I used to wear a size …well, never mind).

My point is, yes, everyone knows that being fat predisposes some people to serious health conditions. But there are plenty of skinny and normal-weight people walking around who aren’t that healthy either. Again, I have to agree with my brother in asking the question—is weight the primary driver of health? There are numerous studies (Google them up) to suggest otherwise.

So, I hope CVS re-thinks this one. Because you know what? Carrots are way more healthy for your diet than sticks.


  1. Thought provoking post Crystal. You know i"m a huge fan of workplace wellness, but I've steered clear of incentives (in the form of carrots or sticks.) I fear they will (1) alienate people I'm trying to engage, (2) not motivate people to make healthy changes. Yes, I drank the "Drive" Kool-Aid. I think about this all the time, but my opinion hasn't changes much since I wrote this --

    While you've been busy writing this post, I've been slogging away on one about budgeting for health insurance in 2014. We've been told to expect a 3.8% increase due to new taxes and fees and a 3-6% increase due to product plan design changes required by health care reform. That's before we even get to our normal rate increase. So, I am little sympathetic to employers freaking out right now. I just don't think the CVS route is the way to go.

  2. One of the comments I received on Twitter made me go back and look at this again. I haven't been keeping up with what is going on at Whole Foods lately, but it makes for an interesting comparison. If you look at it this way, does it change your perspective any?

  3. Hi Janet:

    I can get on board with what Whole Foods is doing. It offers employees a choice and a positive incentive, and both of these are important. We know that grown people do not like to be forced into good behavior and we also know that negative incentives don't work. If they did, no one would be fat, because being called "fatty," "chubbawubba," "lard butt," etc. would have caused him to diet and STAY THIN long ago.

    I believe in work wellness programs and created one at my last job. Our group races, walks, competitions, and contests were FUN (and I actually lost ten pounds one time). I'm also fine with financial incentives that are positive. But I have serious problems with CVS' tactics here. They're simply taking advantage of the power dynamic to strong-arm their employees. Not good.

  4. Wow!!! Just what are they thinking!?!?! Are they thinking? Lol. Thanks for sharing! Reposting this

  5. My pleasure, Elena. Thanks so much for the repost!