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December 11, 2012
Feds propose new rules on employee wellness programs

Several federal agencies have proposed new rules to support healthier workplaces. The federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury have suggested changes to existing provisions made by the Affordable Care Act. The changes would be effective starting in January 2014.

The proposal continues to support programs that reimburse for the cost of membership in a fitness center, provide a reward for attending health education classes, or reward employees for completing a health risk assessment.

The agencies seek to amend standards for programs that require participants to meet a specific health standard to earn a reward. These are known as health-contingent wellness programs. An example is providing a reward to a participant who decreases tobacco use or achieves a specific cholesterol level.

The government wants to ensure that wellness programs are designed to promote health or prevent disease. The proposal would require that those who do not meet the standard based on a test or screening would be able to qualify in another way. The rules would not specify the types of wellness programs employers could offer.

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