This spring, the Federal government issued new rules to allow employers and health plans to provide rewards to employees who achieve certain health-related goals. These new rules provide additional protection against discrimination based on health status, but also permit employers and health plans to provide incentives for employees (and their family members) to participate in wellness activities.
Employer based wellness programs offer a great opportunity to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, including kidney disease caused by hypertension or diabetes, by promoting physical activity, smoking cessation, stress reduction, and nutrition education in a location where most people spend several hours a day. Financial incentives for those who participate in the program can motivate individuals to take better charge of their health.These new rules allow employers and plans to offer financial rewards up to 30% off the employee’s total cost of health insurance and up to 50% off the employee’s total cost if the program is aimed at reducing or eliminating tobacco use.
Unfortunately, not all illness is preventable, including chronic kidney disease, and as a result it is necessary to ensure that those with illnesses are provided with alternative ways to achieve the same rewards as their colleagues. These new rules require employers to establish reasonable alternatives for those who are unable to participate in a specific activity or cannot meet a particular health objective. These rules are a great step forward in protecting individuals with health conditions from discrimination and higher health care costs while providing opportunities to improve their health and receive incentives for doing so.
Share your comments below! What do you think about employer wellness programs? Does your employer or health plan offer rewards for participation in a wellness program? Do you participate? If yes, have you liked the program?
If your employer has a program and you don’t participate, why not? What reward did you miss out on by not participating?