Wellness programs are attracting increasing attention from government watchdogs and citizen advocacy groups.

The latest attack is focused on wellness program designers who include questions about pregnancy. As reported by Kaiser Health News, the National Women's Law Center was among the advocacy groups that have petitioned the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ban any pregnancy-related questions in wellness intake questionnaires, due to concerns that the information will get back to employers.

The EEOC has been critical of wellness plans that intentionally or unintentionally make employees feel like their participation in the program isn't truly voluntary. The agency has also warned plan designers that plans can't run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring activities or actions that can't be easily performed by those with a disability. It is developing a set of rules for wellness plans, and has been flooded with comments pro and con.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.