Incentive-Based Wellness Initiatives for All: Good practices = Good Outcomes

CCA has long supported the use of incentive-based workplace wellness programs. We’ve issued recommendations on core components and the role of incentives, and certainly agree that programs should not “inappropriately punish workers in poor health, [be] overly coercive, or create perverse financial incentives that result in poorer health outcomes.” We further believe that existing federal and state safeguards should be applied to programs that violate existing HIPAA requirements for reasonable design, annual requalification, alternative standards and other benchmarks. In short, there’s a growing body of research that clearly demonstrates the value of wellness programs, including those employing incentives for participation and outcomes, for improving health and reducing preventable health care costs (see here, here, here and here).

Congress, too, recognizes the value of wellness programs for all populations. The Affordable Care Act provided landmark recognition of workplace and community-based wellness and prevention programs. Particularly important, the statute in 2014 will increase from 20 percent to 30 percent of total premiums the allowable value of incentives employers may offer employees to participate in workplace wellness programs. We applaud Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, for his continued support for workplace wellness initiatives.

Now, another leading Senate Democrat is poised this week to unveil legislation that would offer incentive-based wellness programs to Medicare beneficiaries. This legislation recognizes the importance of wellness initiatives, including smoking cessation and weight management, and the success of incentive-driven wellness initiatives for our nation’s seniors.

I’m delighted to report on these developments and the sustained march toward greater awareness of the value of wellness programs for all populations. These developments stand in direct contrast to the thinly veiled conjecture and anecdotes propagated by policy organizations and advocacy groups that repeatedly ignore the preponderance of evidence on the benefits of workplace wellness programs.

Clearly, there is significant evidence of the positive impact of incentive-based wellness. CCA looks forward to supporting this important new Senate legislation and to promoting the real truth about wellness programs, using evidence and research rather than speculation and fear tactics.

—Tracey Moorhead, President & CEO

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