3 factors to know about wellness plans

The Affordable Care Act has created incentives to promote wellness programs for a healthier workforce and lower healthcare spending. As more employers partner with insurers in wellness initiatives, it's important to keep the following things in mind, according to BenefitsPro:

1. Input

Implementing a successful workplace wellness program requires input from employees. Survey employees about their interest in prospective programs and benefits, and then design initiatives that appeal to the majority of the workforce, according to ThomasNetNews.

Wellness programs should give all employees an equal chance to participate. So take into account shift work when scheduling wellness activities, and offer programs that address women's and men's health concerns, the article noted.

2. Regulation

An employer-sponsored wellness program that offers discounted premiums for undergoing certain tests must meet Public Health Services Act mandates, according to BenefitsPro.

Under the Act, employers can reward workers who participate in wellness programs by decreasing their premiums by up to 30 percent. That reward jumps to 50 percent for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use. Moreover, insurers must offer members with employer-sponsored health insurance significantly lower premiums for participating in wellness programs--regardless of whether they actually improve their health.

Certain health plans must comply with HIPAA rules governing the confidentiality of individually identifiable health information, while employers offering wellness programs must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, BenefitsPro noted.

3. Reporting

Group health plans and insurers must submit an annual report to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that addresses whether benefits fulfill several cost and quality criteria, including the implementation of wellness and health promotion activities, BenefitsPro noted. The reports also will look at how the plan or coverage improved health outcomes through quality reporting, effective case management, care coordination, chronic disease management, and medication and care compliance initiatives, among other criteria.

For more:
- read the BenefitsPro article
- here's the ThomasNetNews piece