- A trio of federal agencies Oct. 4 clarified that employers may offer health plan discounts for workers who receive the coronavirus vaccine, without running afoul of federal law.
- A group health plan may offer participants a premium discount for receiving a COVID-19 vaccination if the discount complies with federal wellness program regulations, according to the FAQ document. Among other requirements, that means the reward can't exceed 30% of the cost of employee-only coverage and that employers may need to offer an alternative to vaccination.
- The agencies noted that the guidance addressed only incentives tied to group health plans and health insurance issuers — not those offered as part of an unrelated workplace policy.
Monday's guidance came from the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Treasury and discussed compliance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Affordable Care Act.
It also generally stated what sources previously told employers to expect: that health plan discounts for coronavirus vaccination would be allowed, but subject to the 30% limit and require an alternative.
The agency responsible for enforcing federal nondiscrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, weighed in earlier in the year. In a technical assistance document, it likewise took the position that incentives don't violate EEO laws, assuming employers comply with certain limits.
Many employers have focused on incentives to boost workforce vaccination rates in recent months, but such efforts require that HR tailor rewards to each workplace. "The incentives and supporting programs that work best for your organization will depend on the specific challenges you are attempting to overcome," the chief public health officer and chief medical officer for EY Americas previously wrote for HR Dive.
Others, however, have moved directly to mandates — a move which the federal government also approves of (and will soon require for some) assuming employers make required accommodations for disability or religion.