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Employers can pay workers to track weight, exercise

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(Bloomberg) — Employers can reward workers with as much 30 percent of the cost of their health insurance benefits in return for participation in programs to monitor weight, cholesterol and other wellness measures, the Obama administration said Thursday.

Many employers already have such programs, though there has been debate over how far they can go. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allowed employers to increase financial incentives for employee participation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President Barack Obama has sued companies including Honeywell International Inc., arguing that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

See also: Navigating wellness incentives

The proposed regulations issued today by the EEOC are intended to reconcile the two laws.

In Honeywell’s program, workers and their spouses have been asked to undergo screening that includes drawing blood to test cholesterol levels and a determination of body mass index by measurement of height, weight and circumference.

Holdouts were assessed a $500 surcharge on their 2015 medical plan costs, and could lose as much as $1,500 in company contributions to health savings accounts and be docked as much as $2,000 more in tobacco-related surcharges, according to the EEOC’s complaint.