A Wellness Provision In The Senate Reform Bill Draws Opposition
A health overhaul provision meant to encourage healthier lifestyles by allowing companies to give insurance discounts to workers who meet certain milestones has found unlikely opposition, The (Wilmington, Del.,) News Journal reports. More than 100 groups, including the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association "say tying financial incentives to a workers' health status could increase insurance costs for unhealthy employees, potentially pricing them out of the market and undermining the goal of health care reform," and may not even lead to better health. The provision was added to the Senate bill by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and John Ensign, R-Nev. (Gaudiano, 1/10).
The incentives could "unfairly target the poor, elderly, overweight and disabled, and could be exploited by insurance companies for financial gain," the groups say, according to MedPage Today/ABC News. "It's indistinguishable from medical underwriting," a Heart Association executive said. The practice of adjusting premiums based on health status in employer-sponsored group health plans is already illegal, but employers can offer incentives for as much as 20 percent of the total cost of a plan to workers for staying healthy. The discounts would grow to 30 percent under the proposed overhaul with the Carper-Ensign amendment, and possibly to as much as 50 percent (Walker, 1/10).