Nondiscrimination RequirementsUnder HIPAA, individuals may not be denied eligibility or continued eligibility to enrollin a group health plan based on any health factors they may have. In addition, anindividual may not be charged more for coverage than any similarly situatedindividual is being charged based on any health factor. Compliance with HIPAAsnondiscrimination provisions does not in any way reflect compliance with any otherprovision of ERISA (including COBRA andERISAs fiduciary provisions). Nor does itreflect compliance with other State or Federal laws (such as the Americans withDisabilities Act).
Nondiscrimination and Wellness ProgramsIn January 2001, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, andthe Treasury issued proposed regulations on wellness programs under HIPAA.
Under the proposed rules, there are criteria for wellness programs that provide areward based on the ability of an individual to meet a standard that is related to ahealth factor, such as a reward based on the outcome of a cholesterol test.
Participatory wellness programs, which provide rewards (such as reimbursementfor local health club membership, waiver of deductible on prenatal care and wellbaby visits, free nicotine patches to individuals who want to quit smoking, or freeeducational material and 24-hour nurse advice line) regardless of an individualsability to meet a standard related to a health factor, are not required to satisfy thecriteria set forth in the proposed rule. Until further guidance is issued, the FederalGovernment will not take any enforcement action against a plan or issuer thatcomplies with a good faith interpretation of the statutory provisions relating towellness program provisions. Of course, compliance with the proposed regulationsconstitutes good faith compliance with the statutory wellness program provisions.
Diversity in the WorkplaceDiversity in the workplace is one of the most critical challenges facing US organizations today. It is believed that attaining workforce diversity has many positive social, legal, strategic, and competitive benefits for...