In 2011, Employers with Fewer Than 100 Employees Who Work at Least 25 Hours Per Week Will

In 2011, Employers with Fewer Than 100 Employees Who Work at Least 25 Hours Per Week Will

Worksite wellness programs are a popular way for employers to help their employees live healthier lifestyles and reduce health care costs while increasing productivity. The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPACA), signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Obama, includes a number of measures to help small employers further promote wellness programs for their employees.

In 2011, employers with fewer than 100 employees who work at least 25 hours per week will be eligible for grants to help them start new “comprehensive” wellness programs for their workers. Some details include:

  • The funding set aside in the PPACA totals $200,000,000 and will last for five years.
  • Wellness programs must have an effective date subsequent to March 23, 2010.
  • It is expected that the grants will take the form of tax credits – details are yet to be released.
  • The workplace wellness programs must be available to all employees.
  • The programs must have the following components:

•Health awareness initiatives to include education, preventive screenings and health risk assessments.

•Mechanisms to maximize employee participation and employee engagement.

•Initiatives to change unhealthy behaviors and promote healthy lifestyle choices. These could include seminars, on-line courses, counseling, etc.

•A supportive environment that may include policies which promote healthy living – both physical and mental.

While the law is not entirely clear on the specific effective date, it appears that for plan years beginning January 1, 2014, allowed employer incentives for wellness program participants will increase from the current 20% to up to 30% of the total cost of coverage. Some details include:

  • In order to be eligible for the incentive, employees must satisfy a standard described in the wellness program that is related to health status.
  • The percent calculation of the incentive can include dependent costs if dependents are also participants in the wellness program.
  • PPACA allows for this amount to go up to 50% if the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor decide to do so.

The PPACA mandates that employers will receive technical assistance to help them set up and launch their wellness programs. This could include help with measuring participation and methods to increase employee participation. Details are not yet available, however.

The PPACA has expanded potential wellness discounts to the individual market as well, although not immediately. An initial demonstration project will be launched in 10 states in July of 2014. If the program is deemed effective by the Secretaries, it could be expanded to include additional states sometime in 2017.


<Broker phone number>

<Broker web site address>

All information published herein is gathered from sources which are thought to be reliable, but the reader should not assume that the information is official or final. Reliance on this information received from <Broker Name>shall be at your sole risk, and <Broker Name>assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this information are encouraged to confirm with other sources, and to seek qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organizational liabilities.