EEOC Ruling on Workplace Health Programs

By Gillian Christie

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its final rules on May 16, 2016. The regulations outline the extent to which employers can provide financial incentives to employees (up to 30% of the cost of their least expensive major medical insurance plan) to participate in the program, in addition to a number of other stipulations. The final rules will go into effect in January 2017.

By way of background, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) facilitated the development of group health plans to offer incentives for participation in workplace health programs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) built upon the HIPAA provisions by allowing employers to increase the rewards they offered to employees who engaged in workplace health programs. Nonetheless, concerns have emerged with regard to potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

With the workplace health industry ballooning to become a $12 billion industry by 2020, privacy advocates have become concerned with how personal health data is used and accessed. To proactively address these concerns, the Vitality Institute released Guidelines for Personalized Health Technology in March 2016. The guiding principles are used as a blueprint to better understand how to responsibly innovate using consumer-facing health technologies and to be appropriate stewards of the data.

Does your employer offer a workplace health program? To what extent do employees engage in the program? Have you seen encouraging results? Tweet at Vitality @VitalityUSA or Gillian @gchristie34.

Image Source: Kaiser Health News

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