The Fed’s issued their final regulations for worksite wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act this week.  The final rules are designed to incentivize workplaces to develop and execute health promotion programs.  The goal is to improve health and wellness among workers and to limit growth of health care costs moving forward. 

The regulations outline standards what they call “health-contingent wellness programs” which basically reward employees who meet a specific standard related to their health.  For example…  worksite wellness programs could provide a reward to folks who don’t smoke (or that decrease their use of tobacco).  Employers can also reward those who achieve a health-related goal like a specified cholesterol level, weight, or body mass index. 

The rules also include what they call “participatory wellness programs”.  These are programs that reimburse for the cost of membership at a gym, that provide a reward to employees for attending health education seminars or that reward employees who complete a health risk assessment.  The final rules will be effective for health “plan years” beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.  Here’s the link to the “inside baseball” regulations in the Federal Register.