EEOC Issues versus Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs
How Do Abbreviations in Society Relate to Employees?
There are so many abbreviations floating around in our high technology world that many people simply do not know what these mean or how these abbreviations impact their lives. Case in point, the latest trend in the news involves EEOC Issues and Proposed Rule on Wellness Programs.
– EEOC is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
– ADA relates to Americans with Disabilities Act, which in turn relates to employer wellness programs
– HIPPA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
– PPACA is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a transformation of medical practices to offer and promote better health care at lower costs with improved methods financially clinically and technologically.
– HDHP definition is a High Deductible Health Plan. Generally, employees who have an HDHP can opt out of wellness plans
– GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Company Wellness Plans are a Two-Edged Sword
1. ADA regulations call for employers to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs, even if they have a disability. This includes inquiries and medical examinations. The ADA considers wellness programs a voluntary program.
2. Explanations on how regulations interact with ADA and HIPAA and other federal laws that show nondiscrimination.
3. Employers must examine and review their wellness programs and make sure they are in compliance with the ADA.
4. Employers may have to require that their employees participate in a wellness program and these programs must be in compliance with EEOC rules. Health inquiries and medical examinations can be obtained by employers.
5. Employers may have to deny health insurance to non-participating wellness program employees.
6. Employers may be deemed to take decisive actions towards employees who do not participate in wellness programs.
7. Employers may be deemed to take decisive actions towards employees who do not reach wellness goals.
8. Employers must offer all employees a wellness program with set goals and make available certain wellness programs geared around those with disabilities, offering certain accommodations.
9. Employers will be restricted on the amount of medical history, they are able to get on their employees.
10. Employers may offer employee incentives for wellness program participation to help keep the program strictly voluntary.
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The Two definitions of Wellness Programs
These new health care laws and the purpose of the new wellness programs enacted by all employers are pushing for consistency in compliance and standards of care for all wellness programs under HIPAA. The underlying concept of these health and wellness programs are to promote employee health, wellness and prevent disease processes from overcoming the employee.
Wellness programs in another sense are not considered wellness programs, nor do they promote employee health if the program:
– Causes an excess amount of time for the employee
– Cannot oppose intrusive procedures on the employee
– Cannot impose a cost to the employee
Voluntary Wellness Programs are not-so-Voluntary
As it is, in regards to health and wellness programs, they are considered to be voluntary. However, there are plans to deny an employee health coverage or at least limit the employee’s health plan because they opt out of the offered and voluntary wellness plan through their employer, especially if the employer offers PPO and HDHP.
Employers Must Educate Employees Regarding Rights to Know
Employers must present in an understandable and written manner that the employees can understand information regarding offered wellness programs that are meant to be a part of offered health plans.
Employees must be advised of the types of medical information their employer will obtain and know how the employer uses this medical information.
Employers must explain to their employees any restrictions of medical information use and what people has access to employee medical information.
Each employee needs to be aware of any incentives offered by their employer in regards to wellness plans.
If an employee has a disability the employer must accommodate the employee to avoid any hardship for the employee.
Employee incentives increase if the employee participates in a tobacco cessation program with tobacco screenings.
The understanding of employer offered wellness programs are very complex. Many organizations have a hand in these programs, demanding that employers do not stray from the rules and regulations of each entity such as GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Wellness Programs and Genetic Medical Information of Employees
GINA demands that restrictions are put upon all employers on their use of an employee’s genetic medical information, except when pertaining to voluntary wellness programs out of any health care plans. Some employers seek genetic medical information from employee spouses and this is against GINA regulations.
The EEOC Has the Last Say
– Plans to protect employee medical information
– Provide voluntary health services
– Works in coordination with GINA
– Employers and employees must comply
– Will put into place certain privacy practices related to sharing of employee medical information, the collection of information and by which this information is stored.
Credit for this small business article goes to NECHES FCU, Port Neches, TX.
Neches FCU is a texas credit union and has an awesome team of professionals ready to manage it’s wide base of members. When the doors open at any of the several service centers, our core objective of “Ultimate Member Satisfaction” becomes the driving force for every representative. They are well-known for a personal, dynamic and enthusiastic work atmosphere, delivering a memorable service experience, and where members are known by name.
Neches FCU has approximately $438 Million in assets with over 45,000 members. Neches is recognized by members and the business community as one of the best credit unions in texas and an actively involved partner, helping our Family, Friends and Community!