HHS, DOL, Treasury issue wellness program rules

Washington – Final rules (.pdf file) issued May 29 outline the standards employers must follow to receive rebates for voluntarily implementing employee wellness programs.

Employers that meet the rules’ requirements for implementing non-discriminatory health-contingent wellness programs in their group health coverage may receive up to 30 percent of the cost of the program. Programs can include rewarding employees who achieve a specific health-related goal (cholesterol level, weight, etc.), as well as employees who fail to meet the goals but take other healthy actions.

Employers who implement a program designed to prevent or reduce employee tobacco use can be rewarded up to 50 percent of the cost of the program.

The employer rebates are intended to encourage programs that could reduce chronic illnesses, improve health and limit health care costs, according to a Department of Labor press release.

The rules implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and were jointly issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. The rules will be effective for plans beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

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