Employers and Obamacare Workplace Wellness

With the Affordable Care Act, America has renewed focus on workplace wellness and employee well-being. The ACA discounts employers who foster workplace wellness, which in turn contributes to employee health and employer savings on health insurance. The concept is simple – employers encourage employees to participate in wellness programs, reduced tobacco use, etc. and in turn receive discounts on group health insurance.

Participation in Workplace Wellness programs differs from organization to organization. While some organizations might only require your vigilance in diet, exercise, and health habits, other organizations might dig deeper into your medical history, habits, and some very personal stuff. In fact, some organizations have subject employees to individualized targets on weight loss, tobacco use, blood pressure, and several other factors that impact their workplace wellness initiative.

Another issue related to workplace wellness is medical information privacy. At the outset of wellness programs, a lot of employers are collecting highly personal information from their employees. This exceptionally personal information, although kept safe and protected, might be illegally used by third parties or current employer to influence business decisions connected with the employee.

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Some organizations are making optimum use of their workplace wellness initiatives. For instance, a lot of organizations are engaged in helping chronically ill workers connect with support groups, professionals, and motivational coaches who help in bettering their health habits. Under the workplace wellness initiative, employers and employees are working as partners, where one motivates other to stay healthy through various initiatives, and the other helps in running down the cost of healthcare in the organizations. This symbiotic relationship is at heart of the workplace wellness initiative, and in places where it’s actually working, it’s making a whole lot of difference.

At this moment, there is a solid argument going on between employer groups and the Obama administration. Employer groups are threatening to withdraw support from ACA if it hurts their business operations. At the same time, the administration is facing pressure from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to fix this employee exploitation through wellness penalties under Obamacare. The EEOC is working to issue a set of guidelines which will clearly delineate what’s right and what’s wrong under the wellness initiative. These guidelines should bridge the gap between how employers are using wellness programs and how administration wants to see it used.

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