ERISA, COBRA and Wellness Programming

David T. Andrews, Attorney for Day Ketterer The threshold issue to determine whether ERISA applies to a wellness program is whether the wellness program rises to the level of a “Group Health Plan.” ERISA defines a Group Health Plan as “an employer-sponsored welfare benefit plan to the extent that the plan provides medical care (…including items and services paid for as medical care) to employees or their dependents directly or through insurance or otherwise.” Many common wellness program initiatives will cause a wellness plan to become a Group Health Plan subject to ERISA, including health risk assessments that provide advice and counseling, employer-paid immunizations and employer-paid biometric screenings (i.e., blood pressure screening, BMI, cholesterol, etc.). In addition, a wellness program can become a Group Health Plan by becoming linked to a Group Health Plan, such as by rewarding employees for [...]

Be Well's employees aren't all marathoners, but top small company practices what it preaches

Michelle Jarboe McFee for The Plain Dealer SOLON, Ohio -- Eileen Herman spent years researching diseases and working with patients struggling with diabetes or recuperating from heart and lung problems. Now she's focused on prevention instead of treatment, as the nursing director for Be Well Solutions, a small Northeast Ohio company that stands to grow as employers try to tamp down rising health-care costs and comply with the Affordable Care Act. A physician-owned company, Be Well Solutions offers health screenings, risk assessments and wellness programs to a broad range of corporate clients. The 50-person business emerged as the top-ranked small business in this year's Top Workplaces in Northeast Ohio survey. In May, Herman and much of Be Well's staff traveled to health fairs in North Carolina, Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts. They tested workers' blood pressure, cholesterol and other vital statistics, [...]