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Wellness Incentives Must Acknowledge Employee Limitations

11/19/14

  10:24:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 412 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Incentives

Wellness Incentives Must Acknowledge Employee Limitations

weigh in

A recent legal ruling has placed put a spotlight on worksite wellness incentives and the need to provide a level playing field for every employee. And it demonstrates the importance of working with a wellness program like MedBen WellLiving that understands the proper balance such incentives require.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery denied a bid by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to stop Honeywell International from imposing penalties on workers who refuse to undergo biometric testing as part of its wellness program. Montgomery said she wasn’t ready to make even a preliminary determination on the matter.

According to Employee Benefit News, the EEOC argued that Honeywell has an "illegal wellness program" -- "illegal" in that (so they claim) tying examinations to worker premium costs and other incentives violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. In Honeywell’s program, those employees who do not participate in a questionnaire and biometric screening are assessed a $500 surcharge on their medical plan costs and can lose $1,500 in company contributions to health savings accounts.

While the final word on this issue is still to come, it's interesting to note that the Affordable Care Act strongly advocates such incentives. Under the law, employers may offer financial rewards and penalties for workers up to 50% of the premium as an incentive to practice healthier lifestyles. Of course, such incentives must be achievable by every employee.

MedBen WellLiving believes in the importance of incentives... indeed, we endorse it as a key to promoting wellness to your employees. But we also understand it's equally important that such incentives are fair to every employee. Toward that goal, we work with clients to develop wellness objectives that can be realistically attained, and that do not discriminate against those with health or mobility issues.

Further, the employee's right to privacy must be respected. WellLiving differs from other worksite wellness programs in that it encourages plan members to see their family doctor for yearly checkups, rather than bringing in outsiders to conduct biometric screenings. But in both instances, the individual results of these exams are kept confidential from the employer -- report information is de-identified or aggregate in nature.

The MedBen Compliance Team sees to it that your WellLiving program adheres to ACA and HIPAA rules. And we use our wellness planning expertise in helping your group offer incentives that promote better health and are realistic for all. For more information, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

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