Wellness Program Rules Issued

Employers must follow these regulations to avoid discrimination in their wellness programs.

In June 2013, the Treasury Department, Labor Department, and Health and Human Services Department jointly issued final regulations covering employer wellness programs under Obamacare. The rules, which go into effect at the beginning of 2014, spell out what employers and plan administrators must do to avoid discrimination claims over wellness programs.

Some wellness programs are based on employees achieving certain health-related goals (such as lowering their blood pressure or losing weight), and some are based on employees participating in certain healthy activities (such as a diet or exercise program). The problem these regulations seek to address is that these programs might not be safe, appropriate, or achievable for employees with certain health factors. The regulations spell out what steps employers can take to make sure that their wellness programs are available to all employees, including adopting reasonable alternative standards that take the employee's individual situation into account.

For a detailed discussion of how the new rules work, see our article Final Rules for Wellness Programs Under Obamacare.