On May 16, 2016 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finalized the rules governing wellness program incentives under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The EEOC final rules have helped to harmonize HIPAA’s goal of allowing incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs with ADA and GINA provisions that ensure participation is voluntary.
We believe the rules will help to clarify a number of discrepancies and uncertainties from the regulations released in 2013.
As an employer, you may have questions about which rules apply to you and what changes you may need to make to ensure you are in compliance with these new regulations. Our Hylant Health Strategies Practice is here to help you conduct a wellness program compliance audit to make certain you remain in compliance with the EEOC final rules.
What does this mean for employers?
- Wellness Programs Subject to ADA Rules
- If your wellness program includes a biometric screening (medical examination) or disability-related inquires (i.e., health risk assessment questions), the final ADA rules now apply to all wellness programs, not just those that are health-plan sponsored.
- Spousal Rewards Limited
- If you offer both employees and their spouses the opportunity to participate in the wellness program, the 30% limit applies to the employee and the spouse individually.
- Tobacco Cessation Reward Changes
- If your wellness program includes a tobacco-free incentive determined by self-reporting tobacco status (i.e., a tobacco attestation form), the 50% limit still applies. However, if your program includes a medical examination to determine tobacco status (i.e., a blood or saliva test), the EEOC has issued that the reward must not exceed a 30% threshold.
- Wellness Programs Must Truly Be “Voluntary”
- The EEOC has clarified the definition of a voluntary program to include components such as following the incentive guidelines and not denying access to health insurance or benefits.
- Rules Are Applicable in 2017
- The final rules will apply as of the first day of the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2017. For example, if your health plan begins or renews on March 1, 2017, the final rules will apply to the wellness program on that day.
To learn more read our full legislative brief.