The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today published long-awaited wellness program rules in the Federal Register.
The final rule set the limits for how far employers can go when prodding workers to take part in wellness programs.
Employers can offer major financial incentives to employees who agree to disclose basic health information or participate in certain health screenings that are part of a wellness program, EEOC officials say in the new regulations.
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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) raised the allowable financial incentive employers can offer workers for participating in wellness initiatives to 30 percent of the total cost of a company’s health plan. The previous allowable amount, set during the Bush administration, was 20 percent.
In the new final rule, the EEOC says the 30 percent incentive cap applies to both employees and employees' spouses.
The EEOC also set standards for the privacy measures employers must follow, including restrictions on supervisors having access to the health information workers disclose.
The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) put out a statement expressing mixed feelings about the new final rule.
“While we may have hoped for some additional flexibility, the rules do what the EEOC was asked to do – clarify for employers where their wellness plan incentives stand with respect to [Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)] and [Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)] compliance,” Brian Marcotte, the NBGH president, said in the statement.
Some advocates for workers said they think the rule could increase the burden that wellness programs are placing on workers.
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