Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SACUA votes to send health incentives report to administration, regents

The executive arm of U-M's faculty governance system voted Monday to pass on to the administration and the Board of Regents a report regarding health incentives for university employees.

The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) was unanimous in its decision to forward the report by the Advisory Task Force on Faculty Involvement in Health Plan Incentives, which was accepted by the Senate Assembly on Oct. 24.

In their discussion, SACUA members reiterated the task force's position that any incentive program should be designed to optimize employee participation, and not be tied to individual outcomes or health status.

SACUA added one recommendation to the 11 that had been proposed by the task force, and prioritized the report's 12 guiding principles.

The additional recommendation — proposed by SACUA member Ed Rothman, professor of statistics, and approved unanimously — was that the university should partly cover the cost of engaging in non-university health programs "for those engaged to a specified level of participation."

That recommendation is in addition to another one that calls for a five-year capital construction plan to replace existing intramural buildings on Central and North campuses.

SACUA member and task force chair Dr. Charles Koopman, professor of otolaryngology, and pediatrics and communicable diseases, said the report was designed to be a "broad umbrella" to guide the use of incentives in managing health costs.

The administration is considering a proposal by the Member Engagement Health Plan Design Committee to offer incentives, in the form of lower health care premiums, for employees and their enrolled spouses and Other Qualified Adults to actively manage and improve their health.

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.

The university's executive vice presidents have formed a committee to offer advice and recommendations on implementation of the plan design before determining whether to move ahead. Its report is due in January 2012.