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How the Affordable Care Act Can Impact Your Health and Wellness Programs

The Affordable Care Act is enabling employers to offer more health and wellness program options for their employees, while helping employers control their health care costs. Along with updated guidelines for how employee health and wellness programs need to be executed, the Affordable Care Act is increasing the maximum reward for employees to
 20 to-30 percent of their total health care costs. These rewards increase to as much as 50 percent of health care costs for employees participating in any kind of tobacco cessation program. These types of changes make it easier for employers to get involved in health and wellness programs, knowing that they will be easing both the financial burden of health care on their employees, as well as improving the health and well being of their workforce. Below are 3 of the new proposed rules the Affordable Care Act introduces with regard to employee health and wellness programs. Take a look, and see how you could be helping your employees get healthy, stay healthy, and save money for both themselves and the organization. The rules below are being enacted to ensure health and wellness programs are run in a way fair to all willing employees.

  •  Programs must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease: Health and Wellness programs must be designed in a way that they clearly promote a healthy behavior, or use prevention techniques around a certain disease. The goals of the program must be clearly defined so that all employees can be equally eligible to participate.
  • Programs must be reasonably designed to be available to all similarly situated individuals: Health and Wellness programs must be designed for inclusion. Engaging as many employees as possible in these programs will control costs for both individuals and the organization. Design your health and wellness program to include all of your employees, while still communicating clear goals of the program. Creating multiple parallel programs can be equally efficient (i.e. a smoke cessation group and a separate goal oriented weight loss program).
  • Individuals must be given notice of the opportunity to qualify for the same reward through other means: Many employers choose to offer employees rewards for the successful completion of a health and wellness program. These rewards often center around healthy living, such as a gift card to a health promoting retailer such as Whole Foods Market or GNC. It is critical that if the same rewards are being offered for the completion of different goals, that employees are made aware of all the ways they can engage to win the reward. As with any type of employees rewards system, as much transparency as your organizational management can provide to employees about how to reach the reward goal is key for a successful program.

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