Wellness Programs Under EEOC Attack – What to Do Now

Affordable Care Act News

Frank C. Morris, Jr., a Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Employee Benefits practices, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, authored an article on Be Well Solution’s Affordable Care Act News blog, titled “Wellness Programs Under EEOC Attack—What to Do Now.”

Following is an excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Labor has proclaimed that “the Affordable Care Act creates new incentives and builds on existing wellness program policies to promote employer wellness programs and encourage opportunities to support healthier workplaces.” Employers have embraced wellness programs as a way to improve employee health, enhance productivity, and control health care costs over time.

The extent of that embrace is shown in a 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation & Health Research and Educational Trust annual survey of employer-sponsored health benefits. The survey found that 94 percent of employers with over 200 employees, and 63 percent of smaller employers now sponsor some form of wellness program.

The positive benefits of wellness programs were also discussed at a January 29, 2015, hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (“HELP”) Committee. The opening statements of both the HELP Committee Chair, Senator Lamar Alexander, and the ranking minority member, Senator Patty Murray, emphasized the importance of employer wellness programs as a key to achieving a healthier, more productive work force that can help control health care costs. Such programs are also one of the prime tools being used by employers to help control future health care costs to avoid being subject to the so-called “Cadillac” 40 percent excise tax in January 2018 for “high cost” plans, that is, those costing above $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage, annually.

This article is based on Mr. Morris’s Take 5 Newsletter.