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A final rule on nondiscriminatory workplace wellness programs in group health coverage programs has been released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
According to the HHS news release, "the final rules support workplace health promotion and prevention as a means to reduce the burden of chronic illness, improve health, and limit growth of health care costs, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status."
The final rule also support "participatory wellness programs" that are available without regard to an individual's health status.
This includes programs "that reimburse for the cost of membership in a fitness center; that provide a reward to employees for attending a monthly, no-cost health education seminar; or that reward employees who complete a health risk assessment, without requiring them to take further action."
The rule applies to large employer-sponsored coverage for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.