More information sought before implementing new health plan design
The university's executive leadership wants details on the complexities of implementation before deciding whether to enact a new health plan design that would offer incentives for employees and their enrolled spouses and Other Qualified Adults to actively manage and improve their health.
The design was proposed by the Member Engagement Health Plan (MEHP) Design Committee, which was charged to devise a way to reward healthy behaviors with lower health care premiums. To earn the incentive, employees would need to participate in annual health questionnaires and ongoing health-improvement activities to minimize certain health risks and manage chronic conditions.
Associate Vice President for Human Resources Laurita Thomas says she and the university's executive vice presidents were impressed by the caliber of the committee's work and the commitment to the university community's long-term well-being.
Now, they want to more fully understand the complexities of implementation that would need to be successfully addressed, so an implementation committee has been formed to offer advice and recommendations. Its report is is due by January 2012 so executive leadership can consider future implementation.
"The design committee did an extraordinary job crafting a design that could work in our environment and maintain our principle of choice," Thomas says. "We held focus groups and surveyed the university when the committee was beginning its work in the spring of 2010, and they've utilized those suggestions and preferences for how such a plan can bring the most value and better connect our wellness efforts to our medical plans. Now the implementation committee will need to give us their best advice on how the mechanics of that design would work so that a thoughtful decision can be made about implementing this in the future."
The proposed design would allow employees to choose whether to participate in health-improvement activities. Those who didn't would pay a higher monthly medical premium than they would have if these changes were not implemented.
However, employees who participated in annual online health questionnaires and period health screenings would pay less, and those with health risks who are willing to work on them would get a further premium reduction. Those without any of the targeted health risks would automatically pay the lowest premium after participating in the health questionnaire and a biometric screening for health risks.
Thomas says the plan would not change medical coverage, and employees would have access to the same doctors and hospitals whether or not they participate, but the amount of the monthly contribution for their coverage would be different based on how actively employees choose to manage their health.
"We expect that a plan like this would help reduce some of the most preventable health risks," Thomas says.