Employers, states raising the stakes for wellness program participation

In this day and age, nearly every major employer offers some sort of wellness program as a way to encourage employees into partaking in a healthier lifestyle.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers and states are able to increase the amount of rewards dished out to employees who participate in such programs. Additionally, employers are also allowed to increase the maximum penalties if employees do not participate.

Take, for instance, Maryland, which requires wellness programs as part of the state's health insurance coverage. For those who neglect to undergo certain screenings, the cost of penalties could amount to as much as $450 per person by 2017, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Maryland established its wellness program with the intention to lower healthcare costs--the program has the potential to save $4 billion over the next 10 years, notes the WSJ.

Another example of an employer enforcing wellness program penalties is CVS Health. Workers who don't complete annual health risk assessments will pay $600 more per year for their insurance premiums, according to the article.

Yet while the public has largely embraced wellness programs, many say it's not fair for employers to charge higher premiums to those who don't participate, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

But employers and states alike continue to push the limits on the programs' participation requirements, and the fines they are able to deliver.

Last week, a lawsuit filed against a Wisconsin-based plastics manufacturing firm Flambeau claimed the employer cancelled the insurance coverage of an employee after he failed to complete biometric testing, reports the WSJ.

Yet even though wellness programs are still in their experimental stages, with some noted kinks to work out, 78 percent of companies across the globe are strongly committed to creating a workplace culture focused on health.

For more:
- here's the WSJ article

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