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EEOC Announcement Regarding Employer Wellness Programs

A federal district court in Washington, D.C. — ruling in December in AARP v. EEOC — nullified the EEOC’s rules for how employer wellness programs could be offered in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, companies may no longer assess penalties (some that triple what an employee pays for health insurance) to employees who decline to participate in wellness questionnaires and exams. Last August, a federal judge ruled that the EEOC failed to justify its 30% cap on cost incentives workers participating in wellness programs.

While the EEOC does not currently have plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing incentives for participation in employee wellness programs by a [specific] date, it also has not ruled out the possibility that it may issue such Notice in the future. 

In planning wellness benefits, employers will need to make a decision - either continue with current programs considering the risk of EEOC enforcement or private legal action, or come up with a plan B for affected employers.

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Employees want wellness plans with meaningful incentives

Wellness programs have certainly captured the imaginations of benefits managers, with an ever increasing number of companies offering one type or another. Yet engagement studies show that, in most cases, management is more enthusiastically embracing wellness plans than are employees.

Recent data culled from 562 consumers who work for companies with wellness plans offers at least a partial explanation: Covered employees expect plans to include true incentives.  The survey from HealthMine found that three-quarters of respondents would engage more fully in a plan that included incentive levels, with rewards for achieving goals such as maintaining ideal weight, adhering to a drug regimen for addressing chronic diseases, and not smoking.  More on this story:

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