With the rise in health care costs, many employers are looking to wellness plans as a way to manage costs. There is an emerging body of evidence that wellness plans can contribute significantly to the reduction of healthcare costs for employers and employees. However, there is still no real harmonization of federal and state law in favor of promoting these plans. Employers face significant risks if they implement them without fully understanding the rules.
We have recently posted on our Client Center (available to Pierce Atwood clients) two memos summarizing the federal and Maine laws that employers should consider before implementing a wellness plan. Because wellness programs can take many forms, ranging from informational sessions on healthy lifestyle choices to biometric screenings, the summary includes compliance issues for both wellness incentives that constitute employee benefits plans (or are tied to an employee benefit plan) and those that are offered outside of an employee benefit plan. There is also a separate memo that focuses exclusively on the compliance issues surrounding non-smoking incentives.