WASHINGTON, D.C. , United States, via ETELIGIS INC., 10/29/2014 – – The National Business Group on Health today said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) lawsuit against Honeywell International will have profound implications for any employer that offers employees wellness programs with incentives for biometric screenings. The EEOC is suing Honeywell International over a wellness program that provides financial incentives to employees and their spouses who undergo biometric screenings and participate in smoking cessation programs.
Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, commented: “Employers have been seeking guidance from EEOC regarding how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) apply to wellness programs for years and the EEOC has yet to issue clear guidance. The EEOC has had numerous opportunities to provide that guidance but has failed to do so. Their lack of clear guidance, plus the recent legal action conflicts with the message of HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act which encourages the adoption and expansion of programs that benefit the health of employees and their families.”
Wellness programs with incentives for biometric screenings are prevalent: According to a survey by The National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, 95% of employers offer a health risk assessment, biometric screening or other wellness program in 2014. About three-in-four (74%) employers use incentives to engage employees in these programs.
According to Marcotte, employer-sponsored wellness programs and the associated financial incentives are intended to maintain and improve the health of employees and their families and not to penalize them. Well-designed wellness programs, those generally adopted by large employers, safeguard privacy and are designed to promote health, not to discriminate in employment or health coverage which is prohibited by the ADA and GINA.
“Adverse legal actions will have a chilling effect on these programs and will jeopardize incentives for all employees who have benefited from them. We recommend that policymakers consider well-designed wellness programs that comply with HIPAA and the ACA compliant with ADA and GINA,” said Marcotte.
About the National Business Group on Health:
The National Business Group on Health is the nation’s only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions to its members’ most important health care problems. The Business Group helps drive today’s health agenda while promoting ideas for controlling health care costs, improving patient safety and quality of care and sharing best practices in health benefits management with senior benefits, HR professionals, and medical directors from leading corporations. Business Group members, which include 67 Fortune 100 companies, provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.
SOURCE: National Business Group on Health