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New Rules for Health Risk Assessments

Posted Nov 05 2009 10:00pm
If your company has a wellness program, chances are you've asked your employees to complete a Health Risk Assessment. The HRA is an in-depth questionnaire that evaluates each employee's health status; results are almost always reported to the company in an aggregate format only, which keeps privileged health information private.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the federal government has issued new guidelines in this area. If an HRA questionnaire contains questions about family medical history--and most currently do--then companies are not allowed offer a financial reward for completing it. According to the Journal article, the new rules apply to group health insurance with plan years beginning on or after December 7th.

For wellness professionals, there are ways to avoid running afoul of the new guidelines. Family health history questions can be removed from the HRA entirely, or companies can split their HRAs into two parts. Incentives would only be offered for completing the section without any family health history questions.

Insurance companies and employers have until January 5th to comment on the new rules, which suggests that they may not be set in stone. In the meantime, what do you think? Let us know in the comments section.
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