Workplace Wellness

The AARP vs EEOC Ruling and How It’ll Affect Your Wellness Program

Written by Amber

If you could reduce your healthcare costs by 30% by voluntarily sharing your health history with your employer, is it really optional? The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) wants to know. The AARP recently sued the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commision) regarding the definition of the word “voluntary.” Typically, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) legally prevents employers from requesting employees’ medical history. However, it is possible for employers to request information about an employee’s health if it’s voluntarily provided in a corporate wellness program. Employers frequently offer health surveys or biometric screenings in order to show employees a report card of their health. The idea is that by showing employees that they’re unhealthy, they will be more motivated to make healthier choices. According to a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 50% of large firms include a biometric testing and screenings as part of their corporate wellness program.

Companies often offer financial wellness incentives (such as reduced health care costs) for participating. The AARP believes that allowing companies to reduce healthcare costs by up to 30% for participating in wellness programs violates employee privacy rights. For low income families, 30% of healthcare costs can easily equal a month of food. With financial incentives that steep, the AARP doesn’t believe that low-income employees really have the option of not participating. Last month, the court agreed with AARP and has ordered that the EEOC present a new definition of “voluntary” benefits by the end of 2018.

What does this mean for your wellness program?

For now, absolutely nothing! However, if your company offers big incentives for employees providing their private health data, it’s likely that you’ll need a new approach. A lot of companies institute these policies because they want to make sure their wellness programs are saving them money. If this is one of your company’s chief concerns, it’s worth noting that a lot of evidence suggest that wellness programs are worth their weight without considering health care costs. Having a wellness program has been shown to increase employee involvement and productivity by over 20%. Plus, biometric health screenings aren’t that useful anyway.

What does this mean for current IncentFit customers?

It’s not a concern because we don’t require employees to provide private health information to participate. Instead, we rely on employees investing in their own health by incentivizing healthy activities like going to the gym, taking a yoga class, or going for a run. But just to make sure, you can bet that we’ll be following the results of this ruling and the EEOC’s upcoming new rules. If there are any impacts to our customers, we’ll be sure to share that info as well as suggestions to fix the problem. It’s all part of our promise to ensure that our programs conform with all laws including EEOC and the ADA.

If you’d like to learn more about IncentFit or our programs, get in touch!

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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