Wellness programs and disease management initiatives are
designed to improve employee health in order to decrease medical plan
costs. Employees earn incentives for
weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation or monitoring a chronic illness that
can range from discounts on premium contributions to gifts and gift
certificates. It’s an attractive concept
that looks like there is no potential down side.
prohibits discrimination in health coverage based on health status. What does this mean in plain language? When a wellness plan is part of health
coverage everyone has to have equal access to benefits regardless of any
chronic illness or lifestyle choice.
Employers can offer incentives as long as everyone can take advantage of
them. A discount for non-smokers is fine
provided that smokers can receive the same discount for participating in a
program to help them quit. Wellness programs can also be tricky since under the
you only ask employees specific health questions if they are job related. A
questionnaire about healthy habits has to be voluntary.
medicine; employee wellness programs are prone to legal headaches.The Department of Labor Wellness Program Checklist asks a
series of questions to help employers identify whether plans comply with the
law. If you are thinking about implementing a wellness program ask your
provider for specifics about how it complies with federal regulations. Depending on your location state laws may
require additional safeguards. Learn more about this topic by participating in a live web
conference, Reducing Health Care Costs Without Crossing the Legal Line;
Wellness Programs & Other Cost Cutting Strategies, produced by AHI on
as a listener. What questions do you
have about wellness programs?