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Wellness Incentives and Equity

The Affordable Care Act gives employers greater ability to use incentives—such as reducing employees' share of health insurance premiums—to encourage their workers to adopt healthy behaviors. Receipt of these incentives may hinge on employees' participation in wellness programs, such as exercise or smoking cessation classes, or achievement of certain outcomes, such as reducing blood pressure or body mass index. In this study (American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 2012), Harald Schmidt, M.A., a 2009–10 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow, explores whether such incentives may inadvertently introduce inequities across different groups of employers.

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