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CVS employees must reveal body weight or pay higher premiums

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(WECT) - CVS employees will have to reveal their body weight, body fat and other medical information or pay higher insurance premiums.

The company told employees they must have a doctor determine their weight, height, body fat, blood pressure, glucose and fasting lipid levels by May 1 or pay an extra $50 per month, or $600 a year for benefits.

The Rhode Island-based company said in a statement the move is designed to help colleagues become more active to improve their health.

"We have been working for a number of years on ways they can improve their health through preventive measures," said a spokesperson for the company in a statement.

CVS said the goal is to help employees make "the best decisions about their own health care."

Many people, however, feel this information could be the difference between being employed or not.

"I think it's ridiculous. If they're concerned with the health of employees maybe they should consider getting them a gym membership or some sort of incentive to lose weight not have weigh-ins," said Mary Barry, a CVS customer in Wilmington. 

"I think it's discriminating against somebody who works here. Or work anywhere just basically the same thing as gender, race, religious backgrounds. You can't tell people what they can and cannot weigh to work a job unless it's affecting the way they perform their job such as heavy lifting or something like that," said Erica Brown, a CVS customer in Wilmington.

Jean Veilleux is a professor at the Charlotte School of Law.  She says while HIPPA does govern the privacy of your health information, patients can waive their right to that privacy.

"CVS seems to be taking the position that it will be a narrow waiver only to be used for health and wellness programs.  Anyone asked to sign a waver really should read it closely and be sure it is only used for those reasons," Veilleux said.

If the waiver is written broadly enough, she adds, it can be used for whatever purpose CVS deems appropriate and that is where the privacy and discrimination concerns arise.

CVS said personal health information will be collected and reviewed by a third party and never shared with the company.

An article posted on the Today show's website said smokers working for CVS were also warned they "must be tobacco-free by May 1, 2014, or participate in the WebMD tobacco cessation program."

Several reports say CVS will pay for the health screenings for its 200,000 employees.

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