As the economy tightens, employers increasingly are looking for
ways to promote good health among employees as a means of combating
increasing health care costs. Healthier employees generally use
fewer resources and file fewer claims, thereby lowering the
premiums paid for health care coverage. Workplace and
employer-sponsored wellness programs have emerged as one tool
employers are using to that end. But as such programs emerge, so,
too, do questions about such programs' legality and limitations of
mixing wellness and work.
The good news is that you, as an employer, generally have good
grounds on which to proceed with such programs. The keys lie in
ensuring participation is voluntary, potential disabilities are
considered, and personal information and privacy are honored in the
process. These safeguards are dictated largely by the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Initially, you must determine what your wellness program will
entail and how employees will be encouraged to participate. If
employees are encouraged to participate regardless of their
individual health status or factors, a wellness program will be
less-regulated. Such programs may include, for example,
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