It is no secret that health care costs for employers and
their employees are out of control in this country. Many employers have
attempted to hold down these rising costs by offering wellness-program
incentives - insurance premium reductions to employees who meet certain
health-related incentives such as tobacco-use cessation, BMI goals, or minimum
Yesterday, however, the Obama administration made these wellness incentives
more difficult for employers to implement. Pursuant to the Affordable Care Act,
the administration issued final regulations on Incentives for Nondiscriminatory Wellness Programs in Group
Health Plans [pdf].
Among other restrictions, these regulations require companies to provide
"reasonable alternatives" to employees who cannot meet health benchmarks but
still want the discounts. The regulations further clarify that this "reasonable
alternative" standard is different than an ADA-required reasonable
accommodation, and providing a reasonable alternative to achieve a
wellness-program incentive does not mean that an employer has met its
obligations under the ADA. Note that earlier this month, the EEOC
held a public meeting discussing the treatment of employer wellness
programs under the ADA.
These new rules will affect all group health plans for plan years beginning on
or after January 1, 2014.
If you are among the many of employers that has implemented a wellness program,
these regulations are required reading to ensure that your program meets these
new nondiscrimination rules.
Visit the Ohio Employer's Law Blog for more
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with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a
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& Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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