ERIC Makes Recommendations for Wellness Rule

The ERISA Industry Committee has commented on the EEOC’s proposed rules for employer wellness programs.

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) says that while the proposed rulemaking from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about employer wellness programs is a positive step forward, it could be improved. 

ERIC suggests the regulations should conform as closely as possible to the current regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that govern workplace wellness programs.  Also, incentive limits should be aligned so that rewards in a self-only plan are based on the cost of self-only plans, and the incentives for families are based on the cost of family coverage. 

ERIC recommended that the EEOC adopt an effective date no sooner than January 1, 2017, and begin with a good faith interpretation standard for the first year.  In addition, it suggests employers should be permitted to use “gateway” designs in their benefit programs, where an employee is eligible for a certain benefit package or plan option as a result of participating in a wellness program. 

According to ERIC, the EEOC should not impose limits on wellness program incentives offered outside of a group health plan, and the agency should end Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibitions on the use of incentives in requests for family medical history information and use of family medical history in disease management outreach.

Experts in the health and wellness program industry say the proposal from the EEOC in April did not address all the issues between employer wellness programs and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  “The idea [behind issuing proposed rules for employer wellness programs] was to provide clarity and consistency, and while the EEOC was conceptually in the neighborhood, it provided a little more clarity, but a lot more inconsistency,” Michael Dermer, chief incentive officer at Welltok, a Denver-based company that created the CaféWell Health Optimization Platform, previously told PLANSPONSOR.