Wellness Programs Will Get New Rules in 2014

HR Resource
October 16, 2013 — 2,258 views  
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Employers are perpetually on the lookout for better ways to manage their employees' health care coverage. In this regard, wellness programs have always been a popular strategy. But wellness programs can help us optimize spending on healthcare, while improving the health of American citizens.

Changes Proposed by the Affordable Care Act

Wellness programs at the workplace are going to receive a boost from the Affordable Care Act. This act is putting new incentives into place and strengthening existing wellness programs. The Department of Labor, Treasury, and the Department of Health and Human Services have proposed a slew of rules that will reflect these changes. These rules are also expected to reinforce group health coverage. These changes are already very near; they are going to be implemented in the plan years after January 1st, 2014.

Workplace wellness policies will continue to be supported. These include the participatory wellness programs. Currently, employees can access these without regard to their status. For example, reimbursement of the cost incurred on a membership at a fitness center.

Health condition wellness program standards have also been amended. Under these programs, an individual has to meet specific health standards to quality for rewards. (For example, a program that rewards employees who have achieved a specific level of cholesterol or even weight.)

Amendments to Protect Consumers in Health Condition Wellness Programs

Consumers are often the target of unfair insurance practices. As per the new regulations, healthcare condition wellness programs will have to follow several rules. Here are some of them:

  • The programs should have a reasonable chance that they will improve the health of the individual without over burdening him.
  • Programs must be designed such that all individuals in similar situations can access them. Alternative qualifications should also be offered to those who have medical conditions that may prevent or for those who have will probably receive medical advice against achieving the standards.
  • Individuals must be told about the other opportunities that will enable them to qualify for the rewards.

The maximum level of rewards under health contingent programs have also been increased to 30% from 20% of the health coverage cost. In programs designed to reduce or prevent tobacco use, the maximum rewards can touch 50%.

It has been proved that healthcare programs can not only increase the chances of healthy behavior, but also promote health skills and knowledge, encourage employees to get health screenings, follow-up care, immunizations, and reduce exposure at the workplace to hazards and substances that can cause injury and diseases.

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