03 Apr Wellness Question #14: Given the changes in the regulatory environment surrounding corporate wellness, are there benefits to delaying the launch of a wellness plan?
In short, no. Although the recent EEOC guidance concerning wellness programs in the ADA and GINA initially created some anxiety, it’s actually made wellness incentives stronger and safer for employees than ever before. Employers finally have guardrails to help them avoid risk and unintended consequences.
Each of the entities mentioned below are charged with addressing and protecting different aspects of an individual’s rights.
- DOL: works to prepare the American workforce with new and better jobs
- ACA: expands access to health insurance, protects patients against arbitrary actions by insurance companies and reduces costs
- GINA: protects individuals from genetic discrimination
- ADA: works to eliminate the discrimination of individuals with disabilities
- HIPAA: ensures equal access to certain health and human service and protects the privacy and security of health information
- ERISA: sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans
With each department having a different focus, they simply don’t offer the same guidance or parameters in terms of workplace wellness. This is why it’s important to have regulatory expertise at the table when designing a wellness program that fits the needs of your population.
Some well-intentioned initiatives, like giving incentives to all employees instead of just health plan participants, can dramatically increase an employer’s compliance risk. What might make the most sense clinically may not be legal (such as excluding family medical history when determining if annual screenings are appropriate). Federal and state wellness guidelines are set up to protect individual’s privacy and rights. That is why true compliance in a wellness plan is about creating the most effect plan while keeping both the employee and the employer safe.
Have more questions regarding compliance or concerned about whether certain elements of your plan are legal? Share them with us. Bravo can help structure a fair and legal program for your population. Have a question? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.