Keenan Blog

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New Federal Rules and Guidance on Wellness Programs: Is Your Program in Compliance?

Guest Blogger 11/2/2016
Guest Blogger


New federal rules and clarifications for employer-sponsored wellness programs affect how your wellness program is designed and implemented for 2017. These updated rules cover provisions about how rewards are provided to employees and their spouses for participating in wellness promotion programs, avoiding discrimination issues, and tax treatment of incentive rewards.  Both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued guidance about wellness program compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), along with tax clarifications.  We encourage you to review this new information to see if your employee wellness program is in compliance for your upcoming plan year. The new EEOC guidance and regulations, which take effect the first day of the plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2017, apply to all employer-sponsored wellness programs, including mandates related to:

  • Conditions under which health information may be collected from employees and their spouses through health risk assessments and biometric screenings, and program design requirements for programs that collect that information
  • The use of incentives or denial of access to health benefits based on a spouse’s participation in the wellness program
  • Notifications to be provided to employees that clearly explain what medical information will be obtained if they participate in the wellness program, how it will be used, who will receive the medical information, and the restrictions on its disclosure

cash_rewardIn addition, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel issued a Memorandum about the taxability of cash rewards (including gift cards), gym fees, and other rewards, and reimbursement of premiums.

Additional information on these new federal regulatory guidance are available in this Keenan Briefing on Wellness Plans, which also link to the EEOC and IRS documents with specific details on these regulations.


rager_blog_bioAbout Robin Rager
Robin Rager is Director of Health Management for Keenan. Robin oversees our employee wellness and disease management programs provided to our clients and their workforces. For more information on innovative, cost effective health improvement solutions, please contact Robin at