Final rules have been issued confirming the employer wellness program changes contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The rules, issued by the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury, increase the maximum reward in a health-contingent wellness program offered in connection with a group health plan from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of coverage. For wellness programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use, the limit is 50 percent.
The rules make generous mention of RAND employer surveys, noting that the value of incentives currently offered varies widely but according to RAND, maximums average less than 10 percent.
“This suggests that companies typically are not close to reaching the 20 percent of the total cost of coverage threshold” of the current regulations, the rules said.
According to RAND, 51 percent of employers offer wellness programs.
The new rules will go into effect for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.