Overview: Employers use wellness programs to supplement their employee benefit programs in an effort to prevent illness and lower health care costs by motivating employees to adopt and maintain healthful behaviors. Studies have shown that employers can benefit by implementing and maintaining an employee wellness program. Over time, benefits reported by employers include reduced health care related costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher morale and increased employee retention.
The type of wellness program offered depends on a variety of factors including an employer's size, culture, resources and industry. Some programs are simple and inexpensive to implement and manage, while others are more complex and require substantial financial resources.
Most wellness programs are aimed at combating preventable conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and lung cancer. There are many types of wellness programs an employer can choose based on budget, employee demographics, and location and health goals. Common examples include:
Employer wellness programs must comply with a variety of federal and state laws. At the federal level, wellness plans have to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
Trends: Under the Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2014, an employers' ability to reward employees for participation in wellness programs will be expanded.
Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
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Updated audit protocols from the DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration include a review for compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and wellness plans. Based on the change in audit protocols, it seems that the EBSA is increasing its review efforts, with a particular focus on compliance with the ACA.
This section of the XpertHR best practice manual discusses the business case for investing in employee well-being and explains how to develop and implement a well-being program.
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In-depth review of the spectrum of Colorado employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to navigating employee health concerns in the office.
Employee wellness programs can help reduce health care related costs, increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, increase morale and increase employee retention. Employers should review this How To on implementing and managing an employee wellness program and incorporate those items that best fit the employer's size, budget restrictions, needs and resources.
Soaring health care costs are a top concern for US employers. This section assists HR professionals in choosing strategies to reduce health care costs, including shifting benefit costs to employees, implementing disease management programs and wellness initiatives, and conducting dependent eligibility verification audits.
HR guidance on workplace wellness programs and the impact to health care costs.
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