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Workplace wellness checkup: Good tool or invasion of privacy?

By Janice Podsada
From Omaha World Herald on Monday, November 7, 2016
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Companies have definitely seen cost savings with wellness programs — particularly those that get smokers to stop puffing, said Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy for the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit that represents more than 400 large U.S. employers.

He said spending on wellness may boost productivity. For example, you might have fewer people absent from work, he said.

Even though the new federal rules allow a discount on insurance premiums of up to 30 percent, Wojcik said annual incentives offered by employers for participation in wellness programs is nowhere near 30 percent. The median discount among large employers is $500 to $600 per person per year, he said.

Other wellness plans offer prizes, recognition or reduction in health-related out-of-pocket costs, Wojcik said.

In 2014 the EEOC brought enforcement action against several employers that penalized workers who would not participate in wellness programs that included medical inquiries. Now, with the new guidelines in place, employers say they’re glad the feds issued specific regulations, Wojcik said.

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