By Michelle Andrews
Do it or else. Increasingly, that’s the approach taken by employers who are offering financial incentives for workers to take part in wellness programs that incorporate screenings that measure blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index, among other things.
The controversial programs are under fire from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed suit against Honeywell International in October charging, among other things, that the company’s wellness program isn’t voluntary.
In the wellness program, employees and their spouses are asked to get blood drawn to test their cholesterol, glucose and nicotine use, as well as have their body mass index and blood pressure measured.
It’s the third lawsuit filed by the EEOC in 2014 that takes aim at wellness programs and it highlights a lack of clarity in the standards these programs must meet in order to comply with both the 2010 health law and the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.
Honeywell, based in Morristown, N.J., recently got a reprieve when a federal district court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the company from proceeding with its wellness program incentives next year.
But the issue is far from resolved, and the EEOC is continuing its investigations. Meanwhile, business leaders are criticizing the EEOC action, including a recent letter from the Business Roundtable to administration officials expressing “strong disappointment” in the agency’s actions.
In the Honeywell wellness program, employees and their spouses are asked to get blood drawn to test their cholesterol, glucose and nicotine use, as well as have their body mass index and blood pressure measured.
If an employee refuses, he’s subject to a $500 surcharge on health insurance and could lose up to $1,500 in Honeywell contributions to his health savings account.
He and his spouse are also each subject to a $1,000 tobacco surcharge. That means the worker and his spouse could face a combined $4,000 in potential financial penalties. Continue reading