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Workplace Wellness: Promises, Challenges, and Legal Questions


Monday, June 22, 2015

Employers have long been advancing a variety of efforts to engage their employees in their health care, reduce absenteeism, and decrease the cost of employee health benefits. Recently, however, some employer wellness programs offering significant incentives for participation--or penalties for nonparticipation--have raised legal issues regarding privacy and discrimination and are the subject of a recent proposed rule from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

This briefing provided an overview of the scope of workplace wellness programs, as well as their pros and cons from the perspective of both employers and employees. It also explored the legal framework for workplace wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); explained the recent EEOC proposed rule; and explored the future prospects for workplace wellness programs.

Highlights Video

Interview with Dan Newton and Karen Pollitz

KEY BRIEFING POINTS
If you were unable to attend the briefing, here are some key takeaways:

Karen Pollitz, senior fellow, private insurance and health reforms, The Kaiser Family Foundation
While most large employers offer workplace wellness programs, only about 40 percent of workers participate, said Karen Pollitz of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Dan Newton, vice president, product/solutions development and behavior economics, Anthem Care Management
Employees want workplace wellness programs to be easy, engaging, meaningful and relevant, according to a 2014 Aon Hewitt study. Simple and clear communication between employees and their employers is key, said Dan Newton of Anthem.

Sam Bagenstos, professor of law, University of Michigan School of Law
It is hard to determine just how voluntary workplace wellness programs truly are, according to University of Michigan law professor Sam Bagenstos. That may be because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the key legal protection for employees of firms with wellness programs, doesn’t have a clear way of defining “voluntary,” he added.

Katie Mahoney, executive director, health policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
There is a lot of confusion among the business community regarding the legal guidelines for workplace wellness programs, said Katie Mahoney of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has proposed rules on this topic, but many employers see them as conflicting with Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions on wellness.

Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the panel discussion.

Follow the briefing on Twitter: #WorkplaceWellness

Contact: Monica Laufer mlaufer@allhealth.org (202) 789-2300

The event was sponsored by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform, with support from Anthem, Inc.

Speakers

 Karen Pollitz, senior fellow, private insurance and health reforms, The Kaiser Family Foundation, Speaker
 Dan Newton, vice president, product/solutions development and behavior economics, Anthem Care Management, Speaker
 Sam Bagenstos, professor of law, University of Michigan School of Law, Speaker
 Katie Mahoney, executive director, health policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Speaker
(Click on the camera icon to see a video of the speaker's presentation.)

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/22/2015
Full Webcast/Podcast: Full Video

Speaker Presentations

Karen Pollitz Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/22/2015
Dan Newton Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/22/2015
Katie Mahoney Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/22/2015
Samuel Bagenstos Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 6/22/2015

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 6/22/2015
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 6/22/2015
Selected Experts (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 6/22/2015
Materials List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 6/22/2015

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work? Usually Not, New York Times, 9/11/2014
Incentives for Workplace Wellness Programs (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Rand Corporation, 1/1/2015
In Defense of Corporate Wellness Programs, Harvard Business Review, 2/21/2015
Study Ask if Carrot or Stick Can Better Help Smokers Quit, New York Times, 6/13/2015
Wellness Programs and Health Risk Assessments: Section 12, Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/1/2015
Workplace Wellness Programs Characteristics and Requirements, Kaiser Family Foundation, 6/1/2015
Workplace Wellness Programs: Federal Agencies Weigh In, Health Affairs Blog, 4/17/2015
Worksite Wellness Programs offer Valuable Benefits to Both Employers and Employees, Wiley Periodicals, 1/28/2015
Amendments to Regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 4/20/2015
Beware: ‘Wellness’ May be Hazardous to Your Health, Huffington Post, 5/11/2015
Business Roundtable Letter in Response to EEOC Actions Targeting Employer Wellness Programs, Business Roundtable, 11/14/2014
Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Rand Corporation, 1/1/2014
FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXV), Department of Labor, 4/16/2015
FAQ HIPPA Privacy and Security and Workplace Wellness Programs, Department of Health and Human Services, 6/22/2015
Frequently Asked Questions on Health Insurance Market Reforms and Wellness Programs (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Department of Health and Human Services, 4/16/2015
Testimony of Jennifer Mathis before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, 1/29/2015
The ACA, The ADA, And Wellness Program Incentives, Health Affairs Blog, 5/13/2015

Photos

While most large employers offer workplace wellness programs, only about 40 percent of workers participate, Karen Pollitz, senior fellow, private insurance and health reforms, The Kaiser Family Foundation, stated at a June 22 Alliance briefing, Workplace Wellness: Promises, Challenges, and Legal Questions.

 

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