Posted: 5:12 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

Action 9 investigates pharmacy chain's reward program

  • comment(5)

CVS Pharmacy rewards program
CVS Pharmacy rewards program

ORLANDO,Fla. —

A new rewards card program offered by a major drugstore chain may be a sneaky way to sell your health care records.

CVS claims its expanded program would never do that. But many privacy groups say it could be risky to you.

The program is called Extra Care Pharmacy and Health Rewards.

You can sign up at CVS and for every 10 prescriptions filled, you get $5 in store credits -- up to $50 a year. But some consumer groups warn, you also signed away your health care privacy.

Some might call it fine print; CVS said it's clearly spelled out in the agreement. To join the program, you must sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act authorization. HIPAA is the federal law that gives you control over your medical records, in this case the prescriptions you bought.

The document means you waive HIPAA safeguards, so CVS could choose to share with or sell your records to someone else.

"I do not like that, because I don't want anyone else seeing my prescription information except at CVS," said consumer Ann Detheridge.

Several consumer and privacy watchdogs call it troubling and invasive.

Despite CVS stating the company will not sell or share your information, some experts warn that by signing the document, someday it could do just that.

"As a consumer, you as a consumer have no idea how that information is going to be used," said privacy expert Andrew Hicks, from Coalfire Systems.

CVS said it needs signed waivers so the program can count prescriptions to pay rewards. It won't include medical information, and privacy is still protected by other consumer laws.

But privacy groups still think $50 in rewards is not worth the risk.

"I would not join it without asking questions and a lot of questions," said Hicks.

Action 9 checked with other major chains like Walgreens and could not find another reward program that requires you to waive your privacy rights.

CVS told Action 9 that the company has strict policies and technology in place to protect your personal information.

READ: CVS response to the Action 9 report

  • comment(5)

 
 
Download Channel 9's News and Weather apps

Download Channel 9's News, Weather & Alarm Clock apps

Channel 9 Eyewitness News has produced the most accurate local news and weather technology available, our digital News and Weather apps.