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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and GINA allow wellness programs to request medical or genetic information as long as employee participation is voluntary.
New rules passed in 2016, weaken the protections afforded by these acts. These rules allow employers to charge significantly higher health insurance premiums for employees who wish to keep personal health information about themselves or their spouses private. For health plans that cover the employee and his or her spouse, the employee could be required to pay a penalty per person, of up to 30% of the cost of their coverage.
Many wellness programs include a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and/or medical exams that are not job-related. Under the new rules, the medical questions and tests imposed by an employer’s wellness program are considered voluntary—even if workers are subjected to thousands of dollars of penalties for not participating.
The new rules will apply to employer-sponsored wellness programs beginning on or after January 1, 2017.