Workers who lose weight or quit smoking while enrolled in a workplace wellness programs could see their health care premiums drop under new rules issued Wednesday as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Beyond lowering premiums, the Health and Human Services Department said the rules — released by HHS along with the Labor and Treasury departments — also are aimed at protecting individuals from unfair underwriting practices that could reduce their health benefits.
Businesses, meanwhile, expressed concerns about overly burdensome regulations, requiring them to provide tests to determine whether employees met wellness program benchmarks. Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, in a letter said she worried that "certain provision[s] of the proposed regulations will impede innovation and increase administrative and cost burdens for wellness programs, with little to no benefit to participants."
But HHS said it had "clarified" some "confusion" about how the new incentives would work, though it left intact the size of the incentive employees can receive for meeting wellness goals. Some had wanted the incentives reduced.