Posts Tagged ‘health premium discounts’

Wellness Rules Sweeten Incentives for Employees; Ban Discrimination by Employers

The government provides carrots–and some sticks–in final regulations issued today over workplace wellness programs.

Under the regulations, which apply starting January 1, 2014, an employer can offer up to a 50 percent discount on a smoker’s premiums if he or she participates in a tobacco cessation program.

Merely participating in a wellness program can fetch an employee a 30 percent premium discount.

Notice that the employee doesn’t actually have to quit smoking or lose weight in order to get discounts on their premiums.

Employers presumably benefit from these programs because they may cut their health care costs in the long run by having a healthier workforce.

However, the rules come with a catch: Companies cannot discriminate against workers whose medical conditions prevent them from meeting the program’s benchmarks. The rules further require the employers to provide “reasonable alternative” to employees who cannot meet those benchmarks but still want the discounts.

The rules also allow for workers to involve their doctors to help tailor programs with their employers.

So there’s something in these rules for everyone.

The final rules were issued by the HHS, Labor, and Treasury Departments, all of which have a role in enforcing the Affordable Care Act.

The rule will be published in Monday’s Federal Register, but as a public service I’m giving you an advance copy for you to read here.