Although there is strong debate on both sides of the overall health care issue, one thing government officials do seem to agree on is the fact that corporate wellness program guidelines should benefit everyone involved. U.S. regulators recently announced that as part of the Affordable Care Act, which was made into law back in 2010, employees that participate in workplace wellness programs will be eligible to pay significantly lower premiums on health insurance purchased through employers.
Getting Inside the Mind of Government: What’s Behind New Wellness Program Guidelines?
The newest wellness program guidelines, which will come into effect in 2014, allow employers to reduce participants health insurance premiums by up to 30%. And in some cases involving employees who quit smoking, premiums can be reduced as much as 50%! These numbers are a jump from the 20% employers have been allowed in the past and especially from the 3 to 11% that most employers actually choose to give.
Under the new wellness program guidelines, employers will also be free to penalize employees who do not participate in workplace wellness programs by increasing their health insurance premiums. Critics of these new rules argue that wellness programs don’t truly change the cost of healthcare for companies and/or make employees healthier.
What Are the Goals of These Recent Changes?
One of the goals of government in offering these incentives is to encourage employees to take part in workplace wellness programs. This motivation seems to indicate that government officials understand that these programs are truly making a difference. The guidelines make it clear that programs cannot be discriminatory and benefits need to be awarded to individuals who participate in spite of the various outcomes among different participants.
This is an attempt to protect employees from being discriminated against and protect employers from being attacked by unwanted lawsuits. Only the future can tell if these new rules will make a positive difference in the effectiveness of corporate wellness programs. Many fear that the new provisions in themselves are unfair and may lead to companies abandoning their wellness programs altogether. Some critics are afraid that the new rules may end up resulting in some employers moving away from offering health insurance at all and choosing to pay the penalty that entails.
Either way, it’s now only a matter of months until speculation may or may not become reality as these new wellness program guidelines are rolled out into the real workplaces of America. It is up to employers to know the law and adjust their programs accordingly. For more help in understanding compliance issues, check out our free resource below! And to find out how Wellworks For You can help manage your program and take the stress out of the legal aspects involved, give us a call today!