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Groups Warns Senate about Expanding Workplace Wellness Incentives

Posted Jan 08 2010 8:28am
MedPage Today's Emily P. Walker writes about opposition from advocacy groups to a provision in the Senate health reform bill that would allow worksite wellness programs to provide incentives to employees who meet a program's health goals.

"Dozens of health, justice, and disability organizations have signed onto a letter urging senators to remove a provision in their healthcare reform bill that would allow insurers to provide reimbursements or incentives to workers who meet certain fitness goals laid out in workplace wellness programs," Walker writes. 

The group claims such incentives unfairly target the poor, elderly, overweight, and disabled, and could be exploited by insurance companies for financial gain" by targeting those who don't meet fitness goals. "It's indistinguishable from medical underwriting," Sue Nelson, vice president for federal advocacy of the American Heart Association (AHA), told reporters during a Thursday call. 

Under the existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, group health insurance plans can't discriminate based on an individual's health status by varying insurance premiums. But opponents of the incentives say workers w

"This is a loophole that [insurance companies] will drive right through on day one," added Andrew Kurz, former chief financial officer of Wisconsin Blue Cross-Blue Shield. "This can lead to huge differences in premiums."
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