Controlling healthcare costs remains a priority among employers. A new survey by Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm, shows that more companies are rewarding workers for healthy choices. Nearly half of employers offer, or plan to offer, incentives to encourage workers to monitor and improve their health. The survey also found that companies with effective health or productivity programs showed superior performance and have lower cost increases for sick leave, long-term disability, short-term disability and general health coverage.

According to Stephen Proctor, a member of the Firm’s Employment and Labor Practice Group, as employers continue to struggle with rising health care costs, the Firm has seen an increased interest by clients wanting to explore wellness initiatives and corresponding financial incentives. Before implementing a wellness initiative, Stephen cautions his clients to consider the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) requirements that prohibit incentives based on health related factors, the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) that requires employers to consider reasonable accommodations, and the tax implications.