CVS pharmacies ‘bribing’ customers to abandon medical privacy protections
by: Ethan A. Huff
Thursday, August 22, 2013
The CVS/pharmacy corporation recently launched a new pharmaceutical marketing scheme that pushes customers to fill more drug prescriptions at its stores by enticing them with cash prizes and other rewards, an initiative that is now part of the company’s “ExtraCare Rewards Program.” But a recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times (LA Times) reveals that, in order to enroll in the new program, customers must first surrender their medical privacy rights protected under HIPAA by signing them away.
Known formally as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA was originally enacted by Congress to guard individuals’ private health information from being sold, shared, or otherwise exploited by the medical industry or third parties. HIPAA’s Privacy Rule specifically governs how private health information can be accessed and used legally, restricting it in such a way as to allow health providers access only to what they actually need in order to provide reasonable care, while protecting the rest.