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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wellness Incentives for Small Businesses

Quickly, I like what they are doing in DesMoines in terms of incentives for small businesses who adopt wellness programs. To quote:
"Wellness Incentives and Health Insurance Tax Credits for Small Business – The Partnership supports incentives for businesses to implement wellness and prevention programs for its employees. Wellness and prevention programs can decrease the financial burdens of health care and make employees healthier. The incentives may include tax credits for preventative and maintenance health care and wellness services, such as smoking cessation treatments, lifestyle changes, regular doctor visits, disease management, screenings, and health and fitness facilities. The Partnership also supports passage of focused tax credits, especially for small businesses, to increase the affordability of private health insurance and decrease the number of uninsured Iowans."

What I don't like are employee wellness programs that are founded on penalties. This is an amazing story, 55,000 UC Staff have opted out of their wellness program and nurses at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center reject the same proposal and begin a strike. The program started out with a $75 incentive for completing the health risk questionaire, but they plan to increase insurance rates by $100-$200 per month based on the results. In addition, UC reserved the right to send the employees HRA results to their health insurance providers. In my experience, that is not the way to get buy in on your wellness program. I wonder how long it will take them to regain staff confidence and build morale. That is an example of a wellness program that does not result in a positive return on investment.


Anonymous said...

I suggest you get your facts straight before making posts. It is ILLEGAL for employers to charge employees more for health insurance based on health status.

Fiona Gathright said...

I just want to clarify, I was simply quoting an article about the rejection of a wellness program by UC employees: "UC's version is marketing the questionnaire as "confidential," then insisting that once the employee fills out the questionnaire UC has the right to send the results to the employee's health plan. They are still in "Phase 1" of the questionnaire program, where the incentive to participate is a $75 gift certificate, not a $100-200 increase in monthly premiums as is the case of Sutter's Phase 2.

"This punitive program is another example of what appears to be a pattern of disrespect and harassment that this corporation has adopted towards its nurses, in contrast to the RNs who are taking an emphatic stance for improved patient care standards," said Castillo."

HIPAA final rules limit rewards to individuals participating in wellness programs to 20 percent of the cost of coverage.

The idea was “to avoid a reward or penalty being so large as to have the effect of denying coverage or creating too heavy a financial penalty on individuals who do not satisfy an initial wellness program standard that is related to a health factor,” the rules state.