What about Wellness Programs as Part of Health Coverage?

Today many companies offering health insurance also provide wellness programs, which are a preventative medicine approach to health. Today, 94 percent of employers with more than 400 employees and 63 percent of smaller companies offer some type of wellness program, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

In a recent case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Flambeau, Inc., a Wisconsin based company, the court found that the company was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Flambeau required employees to submit to biometric testing and a health assessment as part of its wellness program. Failure to do so resulted in canceling the employee’s medical insurance and unspecified disciplinary action.

The court had no disagreement with voluntary wellness programs, but the program Flambeau offered was anything but voluntary since it could result in penalizing an employee who refused testing and assessment by making that employee pay 100 percent for health coverage premium costs. Also, Flambeau’s biometric testing and assessment of disabilities were not job related and they violated the ADA, which prohibits making disability-related inquiries.

If you already have an existing wellness program or are considering incorporating one, it is wise to discuss the matter with your lawyer beforehand to ensure compliance with federal and state laws.

Stephan Hans & Associates has provided employers with effective legal advice and representation for more than thirty years. If your business is in the New York City area, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Long Island and Westchester, we are glad to provide you with trustworthy legal assistance.

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