We are expecting to hear from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding their updated Wellness Program regulations within the coming weeks. As you know, the year-long delay in the release of these regulations has resulted in much uncertainty in our industry, particularly for the employers who look to this governing body for direction and guidance in terms of prioritization and implementation of wellness initiatives.
Thankfully, the wait is almost over. The EEOC’s new proposed rules should be shared with the public by the end of January 2020. We expect that the release will specify exactly which wellness program incentives could indicate liability for corporate violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This all comes as a result of the 2017 U.S. District Court ruling that the EEOC must clarify two regulations on employer-sponsored wellness programs, specifically with respect to the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The EEOC is expected to explain its decision to allow insurers to offer incentives of up to 30% of the cost of self-coverage for participation by an employee in their employers’ wellness program.
The ruling indicated that because some of these programs required employees to disclose protected information they otherwise wouldn’t volunteer to their employer or insurer, they could be in violation of ADA or GINA. More specifically, the 30 percent incentive would be available only to those willing to disclose this information, and therefore would render the disclosure involuntary, and open the employer up to liability.
While it is still uncertain what clarifications or changes the EEOC intends to make to these regulations, an announcement scheduled for January means that many employers that follow a calendar year planning cycle may need to make off-cycle adjustments.
We know that your goal as employers and insurers is to offer wellness programs in which your FTEs genuinely want to engage, and from which they derive real value. Regulating bodies and experts recommend building truly voluntary programs that prioritize offering multiple alternatives for employees to earn incentives that do not require the release of protected or sensitive medical data.
Our team at Soul Being is here to help inform the framework of these changing plans – so please continue to use us as a resource. Our network of thousands of quality, vetted wellness and healthcare providers are committed to offering the best care to your FTEs, and offer endless local resource options representing over forty different HSA-eligible services.
Soul Being is here for you, so don’t hesitate to reach out if we can provide any guidance, and be sure to check back for more on these regulations as they progress.
U.S. EEOC’s (original) Final Rule 2017
Washington Post Coverage, August 2017