If You Thought HIPAA Regulations Were Confusing…

The number of companies that offer wellness programs is about 60%.  This represents an increase of nearly 35% in less than 3 years.  Corporate wellness spending is up 25% in the same period.  Moreover, almost 10 wellness provisions are expected to be part of the 2010 final health reform bill.  This turbocharged momentum has created new watchdog groups, lawsuits and legislation geared towards company health plans, wellness programs and employee privacy.  Many businesses are asking for help to keep up and to make sure they are not breaking the law.  Here are 2 of the latest restrictions you need to be aware of:

  1. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).  GINA became active in December 2009 in order to protect persons from discrimination based upon genetic information.  The act is geared towards health benefits and employment but also has repercussions on corporate wellness programs.  If you are an employer or health plan that offers incentives or program eligibility for completion of a health risk appraisal (HRA), you are no longer allowed to ask any questions about family history.
  2. United State Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC has recently stated that employers cannot require employees to participate in a HRA in order to establish criteria for funding into a reimbursement account.  According to the EEOC, employers who don’t comply are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Providing incentives for corporate wellness is currently creating controversy regarding whether participation is then truly voluntary and therefore in violation of regulations, including GINA and ADA.  The next several months will provide additional clarification and regulations.  At Wellco, we regularly update our systems and client programs to stay ahead of changes in medical guidelines, best practices and regulations.   If you would like updates or help avoiding the most common mistakes feel free to contact us.

Scott Foster is President and ROI Expert for Wellco Corporation, based in Michigan. Wellco works with companies who want to measurably improve dangerous and costly health conditions through prevention.  Wellco specializes in health ROI systems, health risk appraisals, wellness programs, speaking, and consulting. Wellco is the developer of the award-winning HealthHammer, the first and only Zero Trend Appraisal system.