New Healthcare Reform Wellness Incentives Benefit Employees and Small Businesses

by: Nichole Gunn October 18, 2010

Healthy employees lead to a healthier business: less sick days taken, better focus at work, and a staff that is able to give 100 percent, are among other potential benefits. And, according to a recent report by CNN, this is the ideal time for small businesses to ‘bribe’ their staff with healthy lifestyle incentives.

Provisions in the new healthcare reform bill, enacted March of 2010, provide incentives to entrepreneurs by offering help, along with monetary aid. These incentives will be provided to companies that initiate wellness and prevention programs for their staff.

Effective the beginning of next year, the provisions include grants in the amount of $200 million covering the next five years. Small businesses that initiate wellness programs focusing on health issues such as: nutrition, stress management, smoking cessation, and physical fitness are eligible. Other requirements to eligibility are: businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and programs launched after March 23, 2010.

CNN notes that as an additional incentive, reward payments that cover up to 30% of insurance premiums will be provided to employees who fully participate in the company’s wellness programs.

Amanda Austin, director of federal public policy for the National Federation of Independent Business, is quoted as saying, "From an employer perspective, there is certainly an interest to be able to incentivize and reward employees for engaging in healthy behaviors."

According to the White House’s official website, the Affordable Health Care Act is in place to offer help to small businesses through access to Small Business Health Options Program Exchanges. Having this access to these exchanges makes “it easier for small business owners and employees to choose insurance providers.”