Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Under ACA, wellness dropouts could feel the burn

For decades, corporations have experimented with wellness programs in an attempt to improve their employees’ health and reduce the cost of health insurance. Lunch-hour yoga classes, free flu shots, smoking cessation programs and other offerings have often been provided, occasionally with incentives for participants.
Now, as additional elements of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, organizations and their employees will have new encouragement to get in the game.
Starting with health insurance policies effective Jan. 1, 2014, losing weight, controlling cholesterol, quitting smoking or even just attempting to achieve better health could be profitable. In some states, employees could see their premiums cut by as much as 30 to 50 percent for achieving certain wellness goals. Colorado has limited them to a maximum of 20 percent of premiums.
The system is struggling to achieve a delicate balance, however. Real incentives to achieve healthier lifestyles are generally applauded, but at the same time the Affordable Care Act and Colorado statutes call for a cautious approach by employers to avoid charges of discrimination against the disabled and employees who may not be able to reach the wellness goals.
By Elise Oberliesen, Health Policy Solutions

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