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Health Risk Assessments

Before implementing employee wellness programs or strategies, it may be beneficial for an employer to assess what common health concerns employees may have. Health risk assessments (HRAs) can be used to learn about general employee health. With an HRA, each employee receives a personal, confidential report, and employers can receive an aggregated summary of group statistics. You can then use this information to help you develop wellness program goals for your company.

What Are HRAs?

HRAs are questionnaires used to detect the presence of a disease or to estimate the risk that an individual will develop a disease based on certain characteristics. HRAs typically include three components: a questionnaire, a risk calculation, and an educational report.

A cell phone showing a preview of the Biometric Screening portal provided through HealthCheck360's myAdvocate app.

Health risk assessments are a good option for several reasons:

  • They are easy to complete and are generally popular with employees.

  • They may increase motivation and participation in other workplace wellness initiatives because they uncover individual health risks.

  • They provide group data that employers can use to identify major health problems and risk factors that can then be addressed through wellness initiatives.

HRAs can also be combined with on-site biometric screenings, which include tests that measure things like blood pressure and glucose levels.

Implementing an HRA Initiative

Some health plan providers and health care systems offer HRA programs for the workplace. Contact Cottingham & Butler to find out what options are available. When selecting an HRA vendor, look for an experienced company that is affiliated with reputable organizations. The vendor should be able to assure you that it is compliant with applicable laws and has proper security measures in place to protect your employees’ data.

Legal Considerations

Several federal laws regulate the use of HRAs, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). These laws involve privacy and discrimination issues and the use of incentives or penalties. For instance, it is important that HRAs remain voluntary and that employees are not required to complete an HRA as a condition of enrolling in their employer’s group health care plan.

Employers should be familiar with applicable regulations to ensure their programs comply with federal and local laws. Employers should not hesitate to consult legal counsel to avoid exposing themselves to unnecessary legal risks when devising and implementing HRAs in the workplace.

HRAs and Other Wellness Initiatives

If legally compliant, HRAs can be a beneficial, relatively low-cost wellness initiative that can be used in several ways:

  • As a standalone program to make employees more aware of their health statuses.

  • Paired with educational materials to help employees mitigate health risks.

  • Before implementing another program to help your company assess what problems a wellness program should target.

  • To motivate employees to participate in a wellness program.

Whether used alone to raise individuals’ awareness of health risks and problems or combined with another wellness program, HRAs are a versatile and useful way to ensure that an employer’s wellness efforts start and stay on the right track.


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