Tags: Irs | rules | obamacare | wellness | plans

IRS: 'Wellness Programs' Not Part of Bare-bones Obamacare Coverage

Image: IRS: 'Wellness Programs' Not Part of Bare-bones Obamacare Coverage Employees at the Westin Times Square sample a variety of produce brought in for the launch of Westin Hotels & Resorts’ employee Wellness program in October 2011.

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 07:52 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Employer-sponsored healthcare plans cannot include most "wellness programs" as part of minimum coverage requirements, dealing a setback to many businesses, according to new federal rules for U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul starting next year.

The Internal Revenue Service released on Tuesday proposed rules for Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act that handed a victory to labor unions and consumer groups, tax lawyers said on Wednesday.

Under the law, a large employer must pay an excise tax penalty if it fails to provide minimum coverage for even one full-time employee, forcing that employee to get a tax credit to buy health insurance through one of the new state insurance exchanges.

Businesses and non-profits had hoped to include wellness programs as part of the affordable and bare-bone coverage they must provide workers. Now employers may need to spend more for workers' health coverage, tax lawyers said.

Only wellness programs designed to prevent smoking will qualify, the IRS said.

Employer wellness programs became a controversial issue in healthcare implementation. These programs can vary widely, but can require a worker to meet certain health standards such as low cholesterol levels, for example, to reap lower insurance premium costs.

Labor unions and employee advocacy groups warned that employers could circumvent minimum healthcare coverage by including wellness programs as part of the healthcare coverage they offer.

Wellness programs can be discriminatory and put some sick or unhealthy workers at a disadvantage, employee advocates argued.

"We are very happy with the rules," said Dania Palanker, senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center, which lobbied the IRS to disallow wellness programs from an employer's minimum healthcare coverage offering.

Retail industry groups were among the businesses that called on the IRS to include wellness programs as part of health coverage.

"It is a setback for employers," Greta Cowart, a partner at Haynes and Boone LLP, said of the IRS ruling. Employers now "lose part of the bang for the buck in terms of the penalty."

The new IRS rules are proposed and open to revisions before the law goes into effect. The public has until July 2 to submit comments to the IRS for changes.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Teacher Tried to Stop Washington State Shooting

Saturday, 25 Oct 2014 15:56 PM

A union official says a newly hired high school teacher confronted a gunman during a deadly shooting at a Washington sta . . .

Ebola Airport Order Opens Cuomo-de Blasio Rift

Saturday, 25 Oct 2014 15:20 PM

A decision by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to subject medical personnel to a 21-day qua . . .

Early Voting Alters Campaigns' Strategies, Costs

Saturday, 25 Oct 2014 14:35 PM

For over 1 million Californians, the Nov. 4 election is over. That's because they've already voted. A growing throng of  . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved