The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) originally proposed amendments to regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that interpret how the ADA applies to wellness program incentives. The new set of proposed regulations on wellness programs under the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (GINA) was issued by the EEOC on 10/30/2015.

The regulations provide relief with regard to employers that reward employees for a spouse’s participation in certain wellness initiatives. 

GINA generally prohibits wellness programs from offering incentives for the provision of genetic information. For that reason, the EEOC has informally cautioned against offering rewards to encourage a spouse to provide medical information via health risk assessments (HRAs) or annual health screenings. 

Employers Can Now Screen Spouses the Same as Employees, and offer incentives!

The new rules allow wellness programs to reward an employee whose spouse answers questions in a health risk assessment or undergoes a medical screening. However, the total incentives offered for the spouse’s participation combined with the employee incentives under the wellness program cannot exceed 30 percent of the total cost of coverage. The reference to total cost of coverage is a significant change for the EEOC, which had previously referred to single employee coverage.

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