About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Strings Attached: Wellness Programs Are A No-Brainer

If someone told you that for every dollar spent, you’d get $2-$6 in return, most likely, you would be skeptical. We’ve grown accustomed to a world where nothing comes cheap, there's no such thing as a free lunch, and a huge projected return means it has to be a very risky investment. But, as discussed recently in the TLNT blog, implementing a company-wide wellness program is essentially a risk-free investment with no strings attached. Although many employers are wary of offering wellness programs to employees due to the up-front costs, it is crucial to look ahead at expected returns. It seems employers are often intimidated by HIPAA, ADA, and GINA compliance issues, but if a wellness program is properly implemented and managed there is no reason to fear these impenetrable acronyms.

HIPAA simply states that wellness programs must be designed to promote good health and disease prevention, let individuals qualify for any incentive at least once each year, and make incentives available to all similarly-situated individuals. The programs must provide reasonable alternatives for those with health factors impacting initial participation, and proper disclosure for every employee involved.

It is important to note that HIPAA forbids employers from utilizing eight established health factors in determining eligibility or premiums. These eight factors are: health status, medical condition, claims experience, receipts of health care, medical history, evidence of insurance, disability, and genetic information.

• The ADA prohibits employment-based discrimination against employees with disabilities. As a result, employers are restricted in what they can and can’t ask employees about pre-existing medical conditions.

GINA states that wellness programs may use health risk assessments to acquire genetic information, including family medical history, but only if three requirements are satisfied:
1. The genetic information is disclosed voluntarily.
2. The employee provides prior knowing, voluntary, and written authorization for the disclosure of genetic information.
3. Individually identifiable genetic information is provided only to the individual, the individual’s family, and the licensed health care professionals or board-certified genetic counselors.

For any lingering questions about the indisputable benefits of comprehensive wellness programs, check out our website or give us a call!

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