Monthly Archives: May 2015

Healthy reminder: HIPAA rules apply to most workplace wellness programs

By   John L. Barlament,    Quarles & Brady LLP

Wellness programs are great ways for employers to provide guidance on ways employees can improve their health through fitness, diet and various other means. But oftentimes, employers forget that wellness programs may be an extension of a company’s heath care plan. As such, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules apply equally to these wellness programs as they do health care plans.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a list of questions and answers to remind employers of their HIPAA obligations with regard to wellness programs.

In the release, titled “HIPAA Privacy and Security and Workplace Wellness Programs,” HHS clarifies which wellness programs are subject to HIPAA rules. That is, any workplace wellness program a company offers as part of a group health plan for employees. “Where a workplace wellness program is offered as part of a group health plan, the individually identifiable health information collected from or created about participants in the wellness program is [protected health information (PHI)] and protected by the HIPAA Rules,” HHS says.

Full details:  http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e61319a8-debb-46a9-92fe-96eb05b2e688

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Proposed New Rule Would Amend ADA, ACA Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness programs that may be part of a group health plan or  are offered outside of a group health plan will be affected under proposed regulations released by the The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC. The agency is accepting comments that must be received by the Commission on or before June 19, 2015.

This proposed rule provides guidance on the extent to which the ADA permits employers to offer incentives to employees to promote participation in wellness programs that are employee health programs, said the EEOC.

The agency said references in the proposed rule regarding the requirement to provide a notice and the use of incentives, and changes to the corresponding section of the interpretive guidance, apply only to wellness programs that are part of or provided by a group health plan or by a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance in connection with a group health plan.

The term “group health plan” includes both insured and self-insured group health plans and is used interchangeably with the term “health plan” throughout the preamble.

“All of the other proposed changes to the regulations apply to all “health programs,” which include wellness programs whether or not they are offered as part of or outside of a group health plan or group health insurance coverage. The term “incentives” includes both financial and in-kind incentives, such as time-off awards, prizes, or other items of value,” the agency said.

Several law firms analyzed the proposed changes.

Following are links to several of the reviews:

HHS releases HIPAA guidance on workplace wellness programs | Data Privacy and Security Insider.

http://www.employmentmattersblog.com/2015/04/the-eeoc-provides-welcome-guidance-on-employment-based-wellness-plans/?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/five-ways-the-eeoc-proposed-wellness-reg-23794/