New Obamacare rules allow employers to offer workers discounts on company-sponsored health plans if they join a health club, quit smoking, or attend a health seminar. But increasingly employers are using those regs to penalize workers who don’t.
A growing number of workers are being told to undergo health screenings and enroll in wellness programs, as a way to curb insurance costs — or face stiff financial penalties in the form of higher insurance premiums, The New York Times
That could mean workers will pay more if they don’t have their cholesterol checked or join programs to lose weight or better manage diabetes.
A ruling last month by a federal judge in Wisconsin could embolden companies to prod workers to join these programs, despite growing concerns over employee privacy and health management.
The court decision is a setback for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has pursued legal action against programs it says violated federal anti-discrimination laws.
The agency has argued, unsuccessfully in some cases, that employers have wellness programs that violate laws prohibiting them from demanding medical information from workers.
“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not like wellness plans, period,” said Eric S. Dreiband, a former general counsel for the agency who is now a partner at Jones Day in Washington, D.C.
The Affordable Care Act allows employers to impose hefty penalties on individuals who do not participate in wellness programs offered half of the large employers, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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