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Wellness Programs: Notice Requirement

 December 8 2016     Shelly Hodges-Konys
As open enrollment comes to a close and employers have provided benefit disclosures in compliance with the ACA, ERISA, HIPAA, and the like, it is an ideal time to remind employers with wellness programs that there is a new disclosure requirement per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As part of the EEOC’s final rule on employer wellness programs issued earlier this year, employers that collect health information as part of a wellness program (such as through health risk assessments and/or biometric screenings) are required to provide a notice to employees. This notice must describe what information will be collected, who will receive it, how it will be used, and how it will be kept confidential.

This new notice requirement goes into effect for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017. In addition, the notice must be distributed to employees before they provide any health information, and with enough time to decide whether or not to participate in the program. This means that for calendar year plans, a notice must be provided prior to making any disability or medical related inquiry or examination on or after January 1, 2017. Non-calendar year plans must provide notice as of the first day of the plan year beginning after January 1, 2017. For example, a plan with a March 1, 2017, plan year must provide the notice prior to a disability related inquiry or examination on or after March 1, 2017.

To assist with the compliance, the EEOC has provided a Sample Notice for Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs that employers can modify with specific information about its wellness program. An employer can draft its own notice as long as it includes all required information. In addition, employers that already provide a notice that informs employees what information will be collected, who will receive it, how it will be used, and how it will be kept confidential may not have to provide a separate notice under the ADA. However, if all of the information required by the ADA is not provided in existing notices, or if it is not written in a way that is easily understood, then employers must provide a separate notice to employees. For more information, the EEOC has provided Question & Answers with further guidance.

Learn more about wellness program regulations by reviewing HORAN’s Legislation Impacting Wellness Program Design.

Please contact your HORAN account representative with additional questions.