Health reform could include added wellness provisions

New provisions in the Senate Finance Committee reform package may bring a new stick--rather than carrot--to employers who wish to pressure their employees to be in better health.

The new provisions more than double the maximum penalties companies can apply to employees who don't pass medical screens. It could also put workers under substantial financial pressure to improve their health, including losing weight, lowering their cholesterol or even stopping smoking.

Not surprisingly, such provisions are backed by a range of major employer groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. It's opposed by labor unions, not surprisingly, as well as disease-specific groups such as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association.

Those groups suggest that these new rules could be used to drive sicker workers out of their health plans, undermining one of reform's major goals--that of making sure no worker is denied coverage or charged higher rates based on their health status.

To learn more about the wellness question:
- read this Washington Post piece

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