ADA & Disabilities, Ask the Expert, Benefits

Ask the Expert: Mandatory Physical for Health Coverage?

Can an employer require an annual physical in order to sign up for the employer-sponsored health plan?

physical exam

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—specifically, 42 USC Section 12112(d)(4)(A)—generally prohibits employers from requiring employees to submit to medical exams.

However, there is a “safe harbor” that provides an exception for activities relating to the administration of insurance benefits. The safe harbor set forth in 42 USC Section 12201(c)(2) states that the ADA does not prohibit or restrict an employer from establishing or administering “the terms of a bona fide benefit plan that are based on underwriting risks, classifying risks, or administering such risks.”

While the law in this area is not fully settled, a federal court in Wisconsin recently ruled that an employer’s requirement of an annual physical and questionnaire for employees who wished to participate in the company’s health plan was permissible. For more information, read our article about the decision.