Retail businesses, large and small, are trying to hold down the cost of health insurance. The quickest way to do that is to have healthy employees who have little need for the insurance. To that end, CVS is requiring its roughly 200,000 workers a simple choice: Have an annual medical screening and provide the company with health stats such as weight, body mass index and cholesterol levels, or pay $600 a year more for coverage.
CVS, for its part, maintains that undergoing the exam and providing the health information is purely voluntary. On the other hand, voluntarily withholding the information will cost each worker $50 a month.
To be sure, CVS is not alone in asking employees to agree to healthcare screenings. Macy's reportedly offers a similar $50 per month incentive to employees enrolled in certain of its health plans which, for a couple, can represent a $1200 annual savings. The Washington Post, citing an Aon Hewitt survey, found 83 percent of employers offer some type of incentive for workers who have tests done. Of those, 79 percent provide rewards for taking the tests while five percent hand out a penalty for failing to do so. The remaining 16 percent offer a combination of rewards and penalties.
"The general philosophy has been you tend to want to reward people for those behaviors," Stephanie Cronk, a senior vice president at Aon Hewitt, told the Post. "But there's also a very strong body of literature that says [penalty] has a greater impact."
How effective will CVS' new health screening policy be in reducing its healthcare costs?