Four Ways to Modify Health Screenings in 2020

COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the ability of employees and their family members to complete certain health screening requirements, including biometric and preventive screenings, that are offered through employer-sponsored well-being initiatives. Because incentives, often financial, may be tied to completion of these health screenings, employers should consider modifying their incentive design to accommodate these limitations. 

The following are considerations for organizations with incentive models tied to health screening requirements:

At-Home Biometric Testing: In light of the pandemic-related limitations for on-site, lab or physician’s office screenings, at-home biometric testing may be an alternative to consider. However, there are some important factors to consider, such as, the cost of each test kit, shipping and logistics expenses, the number of mailed test kits that won’t be returned for analysis, questions regarding testing accuracy, and participant compliance.

Extend Screening Deadline: Consideration should be given to extending the deadline for completion of biometric and preventive screenings. By way of example, if an employer originally had a biometric screening deadline of June 30, 2020, they could consider extending to the end of Q3 or into Q4 2020. This would be subject to the feasibility of both screening logistics and incentive administration.

Credit for Past Screening Completion: If employers choose to retain biometric and preventive screening requirements for current and/or future program years, consideration should be given to crediting members who have completed a screening within the previous one to two years. An alternative activity should be offered for those members who didn’t have a health screening during the look-back period, but who want to take advantage of the health screening incentive this year. For example, a member could achieve the same accumulated points or credit for other approved activities, such as completion of an online learning activity, participation in a challenge, completing coaching sessions, etc.

Eliminate Screening Requirements: Employers may consider postponing or eliminating clinical screening requirements (biometric screenings, preventive screenings) from their incentive design for at least one year. Given the current economic environment, employers should carefully consider the financial implications of automatically crediting members for clinical requirements as it may also give credit to those who had not participated in previous years. If screening requirements are eliminated and automatic credit is not given to all members, employers will need to consider providing alternative activities to ensure that members still have an opportunity to earn their full well-being incentive for the year.

Navigating the compliance risks associated with well-being incentives can be tricky. Employers will want to carefully evaluate each alternative to select the most appropriate modification for their organization.

Steven Noeldner
by Steven Noeldner

Ph.D., M.S.; Total Health Management, Mercer

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