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New Michigan law promotes wellness programs


LANSING, Mich.--Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has signed a new law that will allow health insurers to provide financial incentives to employees and residents to participate in wellness programs.

Bill 848 amended the state's insurance code to allow health care carriers to provide a rebate or reduction in premiums, copayments, coinsurance or deductibles--not exceeding 10% of paid premiums--for participation in any health behavior wellness, maintenance or improvement program offered by the employer. The new law, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2007, also allows insurers to provide similar financial incentives for individual or family members of their plans.

Previously, state law only allowed premium levels to be based on demographics, occupation or age range, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. Tom George, the primary sponsor of the bill. State law still prohibits insurers from implementing premium differentials based on conditions or diseases such as a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, the spokeswoman said.

Under the new law, the employer is responsible for providing proof of the continued maintenance or improvement of the employee's health behaviors based on assessment factors agreed upon by the employer and its insurer.