Obama Administration Releases Final Rule about Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs

Incentives for Nondiscriminatory Wellness Programs in Group Health Plans, a rule about employer-sponsored wellness programs, was released by the Obama administration. Although research has yet to demonstrate that workplace wellness programs achieve their intended goals – reduce healthcare costs and improve employee health, employers will be permitted to reward employees who participate in wellness programs by reducing their health insurance premiums by up to 30% and up to 50% for programs that are designed to prevent or reduce smoking. Employers can penalize employees who do not participate by increasing their premiums. The rules are intended to prevent discrimination against people who cannot meet wellness targets due to their disability.   Employers must provide reasonable alternatives so that employees who cannot meet health targets can still participate and be eligible for rewards.

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