Companies, insurers call AARP's stand against EEOC wellness rules flawed
- The AARP has come down on the EEOC’s rules for wellness programs, claiming that the rules force participants to reveal private health information to employers. But lawyers representing employers and insurance companies are calling the AARP’s reasoning flawed, reports Bloomberg.
- The AARP argues that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's rules increase the risk of employers using the health information workers provide to discriminate against them. By providing incentives in the form of discounts or club memberships, companies are forcing employees into their wellness programs, the AARP added. Opponents say these fears are overblown.
- If the court grants the AARP’s request to block the EEOC’s wellness rules, it will be a blow to businesses, opposing lawyers say. If the court rules in favor of the AARP, they affirm that the EEOC’s rules were too flexible. Businesses want the rules to be more aligned with Affordable Care Act mandates on wellness programs.
Businesses in the case dispute AARP's claims that incentives force employees to divulge personal health information to participate in wellness programs. Companies should be trusted not to misuse personal health information in violation of anti-discrimination laws and workers who find incentives appealing shouldn’t forego them out of fear that their health information will be used against them.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects the privacy of personal health information being transmitted, usually between healthcare providers and insurers, and prohibits employers from firing or taking some adverse action against workers. Employers seldom see this information, but should be aware of the HIPPA’s provisions.