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Agencies Clarify How Employers Can Charge COVID-19 Vaccine Premium Incentives

On October 4, 2021, the US Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services issued guidance regarding the application of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) wellness rules to vaccine-related premium surcharges and discounts, clarifying that employers may charge vaccine premium incentives if they adhere to the requirements of activity-only health-contingent programs.

Employers have grown more interested in exploring incentives designed to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among employees. Some employers have announced plans to charge unvaccinated employees higher contributions for health coverage than vaccinated employees, while some have been considering other options, such as excluding coverage for COVID-related illnesses, charging higher cost-sharing for COVID-19-related illnesses and offering more generous plan options to employees who are vaccinated.

Read more here.




EEOC Proposes New Rules on Wellness Programs

On January 7, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued proposed guidance regarding employer-sponsored wellness programs and the level of incentives employers may offer employees who participate in these programs in the form of two proposed rules. On January 20, 2021, the Biden administration ordered agencies to immediately withdraw most unpublished rules, including the EEOC proposed rules. Agencies may not issue any new regulations until they can be reviewed and approved by agency or department heads appointed or designated by President Biden.

Access the article.




The EEOC Releases First Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccination for Employers

On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its first direct guidance for employers regarding COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Important takeaways from the guidance, as well as FAQs from the EEOC, are discussed in the attached link.

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Wellness Initiatives and Designing Consumer Driven Health Plans

During the most recent Tax in the City event in Dallas, Partners Erin Turley and Judith Wethall, presented on the rise of consumer driven health care. Some popular programs they discussed include wellness, smoking cessation, high deductible health plans and HSAs, telemedicine, direct contracting and affordable care organizations. They also discussed the compliance complexities associated with these programs, including ERISA, FLSA and HIPAA privacy concerns.

View the full presentation.




Court to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “Try Again” on Wellness Rules

In October 2016, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) sued the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking an injunction against the latest iteration of wellness program regulations. The final EEOC regulations issued last year offer employers a roadmap for offering employee wellness programs that pass muster as “voluntary” examinations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). In response, AARP argued that the EEOC failed to adequately justify the new rules and abused its regulatory power by reversing course on its long-standing position against wellness programs.

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Wellness Incentive Programs: Navigating Legal Landmines and Designing Effective Employee Communication Strategies

This year’s Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress featured a presentation by Susan Nash that addressed the many shapes and sizes of wellness programs today. Programs are typically designed to promote health and to educate employees about prevention, but some are disease management oriented, while others are designed to improve the general overall health of an employee population.

Presentation focal points included:

  • HIPAA Nondiscrimination Rules
  • Tri-Agency Guidance under ACA on Wellness Programs
  • Americans with Disabilities Act and GINA
  • EEOC Enforcement of ADA and Final Regulations
  • Internal Revenue Code Limitations

View presentation slides.




EEOC Model Wellness Program Notice

Today, the EEOC issued its model notice to be used in conjunction with wellness programs that ask disability related inquiries or require medical examinations. The notice requirement applies prospectively to employer wellness programs as of the first day of the plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2017, for the health plan used to determine the level of incentive permitted under the regulations. An employer’s HIPAA notice of privacy practices may suffice to satisfy the ADA notice requirements if it contains the ADA-required information. However, given the timing requirements for distribution of the HIPAA notice and the fact that the EEOC rules apply to wellness programs outside of the group health plan, a separate ADA notice may be required.

Questions and Answers: Sample Notice for Employees Regarding Employer Wellness Programs

Sample Notice for Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs




EEOC Releases Final Wellness Program Regulations Related to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released final wellness plan regulations providing guidance on how employer wellness programs may comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). The EEOC made it very clear that compliance with the HIPAA nondiscrimination rules does not necessarily mean that an employer is in compliance with the final wellness program rules under the ADA or GINA.

Read the full article.




EEOC to Clarify and Expand Wellness Program Incentives Related to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

On October, 30, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a proposed rule that would amend regulations implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), as they relate to employer wellness programs. Title II of GINA protects employees from employment discrimination based on their genetic information, including the health status of workers’ families.

Read the full article.




EEOC Proposed Rules Provide Long-Awaited Guidance for Wellness Programs

Susan M. Nash wrote this bylined article about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) long-awaited guidance on when it will enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against employers who sponsor certain types of employee wellness programs. “Although still in proposed form, the proposed rule provides insight into EEOC’s approach toward regulating employer wellness programs,” Ms. Nash wrote.

Read the full article in Corporate Wellness Magazine.




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