Offered and endorsed by many employers in the area, wellness programs aim to provide employees valuable information and tools to more effectively manage their health. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is proposing rules that could curtail these beneficial programs. To leave a comment with the EEOC, click here.
Generally, wellness programs target preventable conditions, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and tobacco addiction to name a few. Often, a company will provide an incentive to employees that take steps to curb the risk of chronic illness associated with many preventable conditions. For example, if an employee successfully completes a tobacco cessation program provided by the company, they may be eligible for a health insurance discount.
Wellness programs are regulated to protect employee’s privacy, limit incentives so businesses don’t push healthcare costs on employees, and ensure options for participation are available to those who might otherwise not be able due to a medical or physical condition. That is why members of both parties have endorsed wellness programs as a win for all parties involved.
The EEOC has proposed rulemaking that are current winding through the regulatory process in Washington. While the proposal does not appear to drastically alter the regulations that govern wellness programs, there are several outstanding questions that, if unanswered or unclarified, could potentially curtail wellness programs. Specifically:
- Do the proposed rules affect current provisions permitting an incentive of up to 30 percent on family plans?
- Does the proposed 30 percent incentive limitation only relate to wellness programs that specifically include testing?
- Will proposed administrative requirements be handled in the most cost effective manner?
As employees, businesses and governments seek for ways to lower healthcare costs and prevent chronic illness, we’re asking businesses in the St. Paul area to leave a comment with the EEOC in support of corporate wellness plans. If you support these programs and the benefits they provide employees, let the EEOC know!
To leave a comment with the EEOC, click here.