Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paying the Piper

Why is it that we're told - on the one hand - that insurance premiums are too high, but when an employer tries something as simple as a health screening to accomplish this, it's a terrible, horrible, no-good intrusion on our privacy?

Recently, drugstore behemoth CVS introduced a program to enable its covered employees to mitigate rate increases. They were asked to undergo a health screening which would report back to the company their current height and weight, blood pressure and the like. Employees who agreed avoided a surcharge, those who took a pass are now faced with a $600 annual rate hike.

Seems simple and fair enough.

But of course, what we say we want and what we're willing to do to get it are two different things:

"Critics and patients' rights advocates worry that this could be the first step toward firing sick workers and adopting a policy of discrimination."

Perhaps, but then again, no one's forcing these employees to purchase their insurance through their employer, either. Don't like the policy, then feel free to find another job or other insurance.

But Henry, you may be saying, how can I find a new job in this economy, or different insurance if I'm ill?

Good questions, but irrelevant: the entity which provides the insurance (in this case, CVS) gets to make the call on what plans are offered and how much premiums will be subsidized. To that end, they have an obligation to their stakeholders (including your fellow employees, by the way) to be as cost-efficient as possible with those expenses. Notice that they're not asking folks to get these screenings as requirements to keep a job, just the insurance.

Seems fair enough to me.
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