More Proposed Regulations on Employer Wellness Programs

Nov 6 2015 - Benefits, Health and Safety - HRWatchdog


Wellness programs are intended to encourage healthier lifestyles or prevent disease.

The EEOC recently issued proposed rules relating to how the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans.

Some employers that provide health insurance also offer wellness programs that intend to encourage healthier lifestyles or prevent disease. In some cases, the programs offer financial incentives for employees who participate and achieve certain outcomes. In other situations, the programs may penalize non-participating employees by shifting the cost of health care premiums to the employee.

The EEOC is targeting wellness programs that financially penalize employees for not participating. The EEOC alleges that penalties, such as increased health insurance premiums for employees, render the wellness programs involuntary and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and GINA.

As previously reported in April 2015, the EEOC issued proposed rulemaking intended to provide guidance on how wellness programs offered as part of an employer’s group health plan can comply with the ADA.

The proposed ADA rules set limits on the level of wellness program incentives that may be offered in exchange for an employee’s medical information.

Now, these new proposed rules generally address when an employer can obtain genetic information in connection with a wellness program without violating GINA. In addition, according to the EEOC’s press release, the proposed GINA regulations seek to address when an employer may offer incentives for an employee’s spouse to provide information about his or her health status as part of a wellness program, when the spouse participates in the employer’s health plan.

The EEOC has also posted:

The EEOC will accept comments on the proposed rules until December 29, 2015.

You may submit comments, identified by RIN number 3046-AB02, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Additional methods for submitting comments are listed in the proposed rules.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

HRCalifornia members can visit Wellness Programs for more information. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.

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