Employer Wellness Programs and Genetic Information: Frequently Asked Questions [December 17, 2015]   [open pdf - 493KB]

"Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended), which encouraged the use of wellness programs, employers have increasingly established employer wellness programs in an effort to support better health among their employees and reduce their own health care costs. Employer wellness programs often focus on improving wellness overall, but they may target a specific disease (e.g., diabetes) or behavior (e.g., smoking), and they may include the provision of health or other services. These programs often include incentives for participation, ranging from additional paid time off to reduced insurance premium contributions. Participation in a wellness program almost always involves the provision of medical information--which may include genetic information--by the participant (e.g., the employee, the employee's spouse) to the employer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) permits employers to request genetic information as part of a wellness program but prohibits the offering of inducements to secure such information. In other words, the EEOC requires that the provision of genetic information as part of a wellness program be voluntary, and considers the offering of any incentive at all for the provision of genetic information to nullify this voluntariness. […] This report explains when an employer may request genetic information from an employee as part of a wellness program with an inducement attached to participation and the requirements the employer must follow when doing so. It also discusses the EEOC's proposed rule whereby a spouse may be incentivized to provide his or her own medical information, which is also the employee's genetic information, as part of a wellness program."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R44311
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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