EEOC Issues Final Rules on Employer Wellness Programs

Tom Wirbel, CPI-HR Vice President

Tom Wirbel, CPI-HR Vice President

Many employers sponsor wellness plans and have done so for several years.  The ACA introduced more flexibility for employers to provide richer incentives for employees who participate in wellness programs, but the EEOC has been careful to make sure that employers’ wellness programs don’t discriminate against employees.  The EEOC Press Release dated 5/16/16 addresses three major themes: incentives, program design and protecting confidentiality.

INCENTIVES

The 5/16/16 EEOC guidance affirms an employer’s ability to provide incentives for both employees and spouses, but not for dependent children (even if they are adults).  Maximum incentive for an employee is defined as 30% of the total cost of self-only coverage.  Maximum incentive for a spouse of the employee is now defined the same way, 30% of the total cost of self-only coverage.

PROGRAM DESIGN

The EEOC guidance seeks “to ensure that wellness programs actually promote good health and are not just used to collect or sell sensitive medial information about employees and family members or to impermissibly shift health insurance costs to them.  The ADA and GINA rules require wellness programs to be reasonably designed to promote health and prevent disease.”

PROTECTING CONFIDENTIALITY

“The ADA and GINA rules state that information from wellness programs may be disclosed to employers only in aggregate terms.”

“The ADA rule requires that employers give participating employees a notice that tells them what information will be collected as part of the wellness program, with whom it will be shared and for what purpose, the limits on disclosure and the way information will be kept confidential.  GINA includes statutory notice and consent provisions for health and genetic services provided to employees and their family members.”

Best practices for ensuring confidentiality include: “adopting and communicating clear policies, training employees who handle confidential information, encrypting health information, and providing prompt notification of employees and their family members if breaches occur.”

Final rules go into effect in 2017.

For information about CPI-HR’s ability to help you determine what if any changes you should make to your wellness program, please contact your CPI-HR Benefits Consultant or call 440-542-7800.

 

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