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Wellness programs: Clash between health care reform and GINA

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employee Benefits Program,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

by Susan K. Lessack and Kali T. Wellington, Esqs.

Approximately 70% of employers sponsor wellness programs designed to drive down health care costs, reduce absenteeism and promote better employee health. About two-thirds of those wellness programs provide incentives—including discounts on insurance premiums—to employees who participate or who achieve healthy goals, such as losing weight and quitting smoking.

Wellness programs that offer premium discounts have long been required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which otherwise prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s medical condition in determining premium costs. HIPAA caps those discounts at 20%.

More recently, two other laws muddied the wellness waters:

  • The new health care reform law—known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)—which was enacted in March 2010
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination...(register to read more)

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