Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Proposed ObamaCare Rules: Self-Esteem Edition

    Now that the election is over, the floodgates are opening for ObamaCare implementation.  An HHS Fact Sheet was released today on new proposed rules for, among other things, employer-offered "wellness" programs.  These rules borrow from the Everyone Gets a Trophy and We Don’t Keep Score mindset that has been the standard in children’s sports programs for years now. Under the heading of "Protecting Consumers" [emphasis added]:

In order to protect consumers from unfair practices, the proposed regulations would require health-contingent wellness programs to follow certain rules, including: 
Programs must be reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease. To be considered reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease, a program would have to offer a different, reasonable means of qualifying for the reward to any individual who does not meet the standard based on the measurement, test or screening.  Programs must have a reasonable chance of improving health or preventing disease and not be overly burdensome for individuals. 
Programs must be reasonably designed to be available to all similarly situated individuals.  Reasonable alternative means of qualifying for the reward would have to be offered to individuals whose medical conditions make it  unreasonably difficult, or for whom it is medically inadvisable, to meet the specified health-related standard
Individuals must be given notice of the opportunity to qualify for the same reward through other means. These proposed rules provide new sample language intended to be simpler for individuals to understand and to increase the likelihood that those who qualify for a different means of obtaining a reward will contact the plan or issuer to request it.
    Besides being struck with the invasiveness, complexity, and near impossibility of policing such policies, one almost expects to find the standard sweepstakes fine print: "No purchase necessary to enter or win." Of course, not included would be the equally standard sweepstakes fine print: "Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia."  That would just smack of "unfairness."

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