Last year’s fiasco at Penn State represents just one crack in the wellness armor. Worker resentment rises as experts begin to question the effectiveness of such programs. But employers still believe and so long as there are buyers, there will be sellers.
The positive effects of wellness programs on mental health are negligible at best, according to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion. The study says that “a wellness center can improve physical health and has limited or no effect on maintaining mental health.”
The Department of Labor has issued new guidelines concerning the wellness provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that relate to the use of financial incentives, and the Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance is seeking public comment. This document proposes “amendments to regulations, consistent with the Affordable Care Act, regarding nondiscriminatory wellness programs in group health coverage." These regulations increase rewards for wellness participation or outcomes from 20 to 30% or up to 50% related to reducing tobacco use.
As a baby boomer moving through middle age into the unspeakable age that follows “middle,” I was encouraged to read an article in the British Medical Journal that states that for seniors and super seniors, healthy behaviors that include regular exercise, not smoking, maintaining a normal Body Mass Index, and having a rich or moderate social network led to significant increases in longevity. From the study: