Government Looks for More Transparency in Corporate Wellness
One of the more controversial elements of healthcare in the United States working culture is the incorporation of wellness programs into the employer-based structure of care for employees.
There are numerous misconceptions regarding what these programs actually are, what they do for the group of employees participating in a wellness program in a given business, the degree of necessity for participation in the wellness programs, and various other aspects of the programs themselves that cloud the perception for the common worker.
Just last week, the United States Department of Labor, Health, and Human Services and the United States Treasury acknowledged that there is, and has been, a need for a level of transparency in dealing with wellness programs and how they are perceived in our working population. To address this need, the government agency released a series of Frequently Asked Questions that are posed to the Department of Labor, Health, and Human Services and the accompanying answers.
Many of the questions answered were surrounding the employer-based wellness programs’ actual definition and the contingencies in which employers are able to participate in them. There was also a good amount of questioning posed to the Department of Labor, Health, and Human Services regarding the financial implications of these programs as they have impacts on various different systems of interaction between the employee, the employer, and the wellness program itself. There was also a series of questioning regarding pre-existing conditions, risk exposure, vulnerable populations’ participation in the wellness programs, and additional questions regarding the schematic in which employees of different levels of health status fit into the employee-based wellness program.
Finally, there was the necessity for clearing up the actual methodology in forming the program as well as providing workers with an idea of the programs’ purposes with respect to each individual company. There is the general idea of health and wellness promotion weaved into each employer-sponsored wellness program, but the standards of health outcome monitoring once the program has been initiated are quite suspect. Moving forward, it is crucial to not only define the nature of these wellness programs but to encourage employees that the wellness programs are a way to improve their wellbeing, not just financially penalize them for failing to meet company-formatted health standards.