Monday, May 23, 2016

EEOC finalizes rules on financial incentives for wellness programs

In "Final EEOC Rule Sets Limits For Financial Incentives On Wellness Programs," Kaiser Health News reports: "Employer wellness programs can gather medical information from employees and spouses — so long as financial incentives or penalties don’t exceed 30 percent of the annual cost for an individual in the company’s group health plan, according to final rules issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Monday. Although such penalties or incentives could run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, the programs are considered voluntary — and therefore legal, the commission said."

You may find these articles of interest as well: In "EEOC Issues New Rules for Wellness Programs," the Wall Street Journal reports that wellness programs would be considered voluntary as long as employers’ discounts don’t exceed more than 30% of the employee’s health plan cost.

The rub involves what is considered voluntary relative to employee providing healthcare information as a quid pro quo to participation.  As explained by the Wall Street Journal article -

The EEOC issued final rules regarding how corporate wellness programs work with existing antidiscrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Those laws generally prohibit employers from using information about workers’ own health conditions and that of other family members, including spouses, unless the information is collected under a voluntary wellness program.

In "Obama Administration Releases Rules on Wellness Programs,"the New York Times reports that congressional action may be afoot to challenge what some consider the restrictive nature of the rule.

The new rules are more restrictive than those passed under the ACA, which allowed incentives of up to 30 percent of the actual cost of an employee's insurance plan and 50 percent for programs approved by the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services. Only smoking-cessation programs received that approval.

The rules will go into effect 2017.  See this earlier WSJ article on employer-sponsored wellness plan: "Your Company Wants to Make You Healthy."

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