This topic covers workplace wellness programs, which encourage employees to adopt or maintain healthy lifestyles. Wellness programs can be helpful in controlling healthcare costs because healthier employees often make fewer health insurance claims, are more productive, are absent from work less frequently, and make fewer workers’ compensation claims. Elements of wellness programs can include voluntary health screenings, reimbursement for health-related activities such as gym membership, assistance in managing chronic conditions, and more.
There are several federal and state laws that impact the design of a wellness program. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to offer a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a known disability, and it prohibits employers from making medical inquiries or requiring medical examinations (unless job-related and consistent with business necessity). In addition, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits group health insurance plans from charging similarly situated employees differently based on health factors. There is an exception that addresses wellness plans, but employers designing wellness plans should be careful that they meet HIPAA’s criteria for nondiscrimination.
For related resources and training materials, refer to the following topics:
- Smoking for more information on smoking policies and cessation programs
- ADA for more information on the Americans with Disabilties Act