As health care purchasers, consumers, and decision makers for ourselves and our families, women are keenly interested in wellness and preventing illness. So the new wellness programs some employers are offering have some appeal.
These programs are intended to provide a convenient way for employees to improve and maintain their health. And there are some benefits. If designed and implemented properly, wellness programs can offer flex-time for walking or other physical activity, provide education about healthy lifestyles and other valuable health-related workplace initiatives. The programs can also help workers achieve their wellness goals by providing activities at a time and location that fits the time constraints associated with responsibilities at home and in the workplace.
But done badly, employer wellness programs can become a back door way of discriminating by circumventing the market reforms and protections put in place by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The National Partnership for Women & Families is working to ensure that wellness programs are not used to undo the progress made by the ACA. - In a recent letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Partnership outlined some of the specific steps that need to be taken to ensure that employer wellness programs help — not hurt — women. - These steps include: