Wellness Programs May Face Regulations To Protect Genetic Information
Some employers using wellness and disease management programs to lower costs may soon face a new regulatory obstacle, the Wall Street Journal reports. New federal rules, beginning as soon as Dec. 7, will "prohibit health plans and employers from offering any financial rewards to any worker for participating in a health risk assessment that requests information about their family medical history."
Health plans and employers use health risk assessments to steer employees to appropriate wellness programs. Some employers offer bonuses or insurance discounts for those who participate. "Regulators say the new restrictions on the use of incentives are designed to bring HRAs into line with provisions in the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. It prohibits the collection of genetic information, which includes family medical history, for insurance underwriting purposes" (Knight, 10/13).