Is it illegal for employers to incentivize employees to be healthy? In the most recent issue of Milbank Quarterly, Jennifer Pomeranz, assistant professor of *health services administration and policy, publishes the results of her research addressing this question.
Pomeranz, also part of the College’s Center for Obesity Research and Education, states that “participatory programs that reward the completion of a health risk assessment are now the most common type of wellness program in the United States. However, legal and ethical concerns emerge when employers utilize incentives that raise questions about the voluntariness of such programs. At issue is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, employers cannot require health-related inquiries and exams.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published draft rules to address some of these concerns by setting a limit on the financial penalties that may be assessed for participatory programs. However, other legal options are available and additional ethical issues remain, argues Pomeranz.
*A new department within the College of Public Health as of July 2015.