CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It doesn’t look like the health insurance program for state workers is going to pay for fitness club memberships any time soon.
Public Employee Insurance Agency Director Ted Cheatham told state lawmakers last week the agency has several agency wellness initiatives under consideration but paying for a membership to a gym isn’t one of them.
Cheatham said it has to do with how PEIA is structured and considered by the IRS.
“Technically offering a fitness benefit is a taxable event,” Cheatham said. “So anything we would give you towards a fitness membership is a taxable event.”
Cheatham said PEIA is working on other wellness issues like forming a plan that would award points to members who take better care of themselves.
“We’re looking strongly at that. Points for logging food, points for exercising, points for having blood pressure and cholesterol in the right levels.”
Cheatham didn’t totally rule out the gym membership possibility sometime in the future but it’s not currently anticipated. He told lawmakers he’s not sure offering the benefit would mean more people would work out.
“We also believe that if we did a fitness membership 70 or 80 percent of the people who take it would be the people who are working out anyway and have their own fitness membership, but it’s not off the table by any stretch,” Cheatham said.