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Lawsuit Avoidance Checklist for Your Wellness Program

Not every office participates in a wellness program. If you do, here are some suggestions for your success:

  • Keep corporate wellness and employment decisions separate. Achievement in health programs shouldn't be a basis for promotion, for example.
  • Use a third party, such as your insurance provider, to run your wellness program. They have more experience in designing programs, and all of the protected health information goes to them.
  • Have your health insurance provider do your program; it's simpler and all the protected health information is in one place.
  • Limit participation to participants in your health plan.
  • Include the wellness program in your Summary of Plan Benefits and other health plan materials.
  • Focus on voluntary wellness activities, such as employer-paid annual physicals, on-site exercise facilities, and smoking cessation programs. (If you condition rewards on achieving a health goal, you have to put a lot of protections in and offer alternatives.)
  • Aim for participation, not performance.
  • If you do offer a reward for meeting a health standard, make an alternative available for employees who cannot meet the standard.
  • Enter into a business associate agreement with your wellness provider, and include an indemnity for any failure to safeguard PHI or genetic information.
  • If you must request medical information for an employee, direct the individual or provider not to provide genetic information.
  • If you have a health risk assessment, identify questions relating to family medical history as "optional."

Train workers who implement and manage your corporate wellness programs to comply with the law and company policy.