Category: Wellness

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Grabbing a Clif bar just before running out the door.  Racing to Starbucks to pickup a mourning venti latte with soymilk for that requisite jolt of caffeine before heading into the office.  More likely than not, you are familiar with the daily mad dash and hustle of the morning commute.

I have less than fond memories of speed walking down Commonwealth Ave in Boston and weaving in and out of standstill traffic racing to get to work.  My focus was narrow.  My goal was simple, get there on time.  With such a singular focus, it was difficult to remember that there can actually be benefits of a morning or evening commute – that is health benefits.

New York City recently launched their bike share program (now the largest of such programs in North America).  The launch of “Citi Bike” is a nice reminder of a healthy option available for getting to and from the office.

Bicycling can be a great way to stay in shape.  In fact, according to one study, a 155 lbs person can burn 260 calories with a moderate 30 min bike ride.

You may be surprised at the miles you rack up during your weekly commute.  I challenge you to power up your favorite smartphone GPS fitness app and start tracking your weekly walk or bike to work.

Remember, getting to and from work can count as exercise too!

For more on the launch of New York’s bike share program: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/24/us-fitness-bicycles-idUSBRE95N08O20130624

For more on the # of calories burned during bicycling and other exercises: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities.htm


Category: Regulatory

In late 2012, Wellable was excited to hear that the Massachusetts legislature enacted legislation providing that employers that initiate a wellness programs for their employees will be eligible for an annual wellness tax credit of up to $10,000.   The credit is in the amount of up to 25% of the cost of implementing an employee wellness program.  Costs in the initial year that exceed that figure may be carried over into subsequent years for credit against future tax liabilities.  The legislature has placed a $15 million per year limit on the total amount of wellness tax credits that may be issued.

What criteria must employers satisfy in order to be certified?

  • Less than 200 employees, the majority of whom work in Massachusetts
  • Offer healthcare benefits to employees
  • Must be in compliance with all legal obligations of employers

What must a wellness program include to be certified?

  • Annual budget for wellness expenditures
  • Designated wellness champion
  • Formal communication about wellness program to all employees
  • Employee awareness of their personal health risks
  • Collected data or information on employee interests on various topics
  • Identification of the most important health issues and/or interests of employees
  • Program development based on most important health issues and/or interests of employees
  • Minimum 1/3 participation of employees in at least one element of the wellness program

In order to promote workplace wellness programs among the smallest employers, 50% of the 2013 allocation will be reserved for small employers with 100 or fewer employees.

For more information on the tax credit program or how Wellable can help you gain certification, feel free to contact us.  We are proudly located in Boston and would love to grab coffee!


Category: Corporate Wellness

One of the most important, but often overlooked ways to drive engagement happens well before the launch date of a wellness program.

I stumbled upon a slightly dated, yet still relevant article titled “When it comes to wellness, ask employees what they want.”  This article is a reminder of a crucial step in building an effective corporate wellness program.

Ask employees.  Asking for employee input may seem like an obvious first step, but you would be surprised by the number of employers who have not solicited any input or feedback from their employees.

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Employee feedback during the early stages of designing a wellness program will not only help zero-in on the wellness needs of an organization, it will help employees feel part of the process.  Employees that feel part of the process will be more likely to participate in the program once launched.

Employee feedback can go beyond administering a survey.  Some clients have created wellness working groups and enlisted employees from throughout the organization to help select and build a wellness program.

Regardless of how you decide to solicit employee input, make sure it is a priority from the start.  For help on how to best to engage employees in the wellness selection process send us an email.

For more on asking employees about their wellness needs:  http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/may/22/when-it-comes-wellness-ask-employees-what-they-wan/#axzz2YaHAh2tT


Category: Regulatory

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The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury released final rules describing the standards for employee wellness programs and rewards associated with them as part of the Affordable Care Act.   The final rules will take effect for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

Below is a summary of the key provisions in the final rules.

  • Outlines amended standards for nondiscriminatory health-contingent wellness programs
    • Requires individuals to meet a specific standard related to their health to obtain a reward
    • Wellness programs must follow certain rules
      • Must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease
      • Must be reasonably designed to be available to all similarly situated individuals
      • Must be given notice of the opportunity to qualify for the same reward through other means
  • Supports workplace wellness programs, including participatory wellness programs, which generally are available without regard to an individual’s health status
  • Increases the maximum permissible reward under a health-contingent wellness program from 20% to 30% of the cost of health coverage and further increases the maximum reward to as much as 50% for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use or if federal regulators determine that such an increase is appropriate
  • Rule applies to employer group health plans and to health insurance issuers offering group health insurance coverage