15 May In The News: A New Court Decision Regarding Wellness Programs
A New Court Decision has made headlines, in regard to wellness programs and compliance issues. This new court decision may disallow some wellness incentives. The issue came down to compliance rules and specific terms associated with wellness programs.
In the case, a federal court ruled in AARP v. EEOC, that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must rewrite its use of the term “voluntary” to be consistent with the standard definition. The judge in the court addressed a need for clarity (with the term “voluntary”) and that later led to issues with compliance.In the court case, it was also stated that the EEOC needs to issue rules sooner than Jan. 2019, so that employers could incorporate the new limits for incentives and penalties into their own wellness programs.
A wellness program (that involves medical exams or medical screening) should be voluntary in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act. Until the court’s decision (mentioned above), the term “voluntary” was not clearly written in accordance with the definition, laws and compliance rules. There had been almost no limitations on allowable penalties or incentives that could be tied to screenings or HRAs. The only benefit defined was the ACA’s 30%-of-total-health-benefit-spending limitation (50% for smokers). At this time, the court has addressed the need for re-writing of the term ‘voluntary’, and the re-writes of the policies will address related compliance issues, as well.