Letter to the editor | Provide healthy options

August 27, 2013 

The direct effect of Penn State’s “Wellness Initiative” is to increase health care costs: The screenings are paid for with employee health care dollars.

Whether there will be any indirect reduction in health care costs is disputed among the professionals who study this sort of thing. In any event, the end result will depend on how Old Main uses the employee medical records it is bent upon collecting.

Perhaps more to the point, actions that will actually improve employee health — which is not the same as reducing health care costs — are not even being discussed by Old Main.

There are actions that Old Main could take today to create a work environment that better promotes employee health. A smoke-free campus is one. Providing better quality on-campus food options by eliminating the low-quality fast-food franchises (Panda, Sbarro, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A) that run the food service, is another.

Directing HR to actually address hostile work environment issues — thus reducing workplace stress — is still one more. None of these actions would have any dollar cost; all would lead to a work environment that promoted employee health and, so, reduced health care costs.

Old Main’s focus is cost and its approach to cost containment is to reduce health care coverage and penalize employees. Creating and maintaining a healthy work environment improves employee health and reduces health care costs.

Everyone can win, but only if we work together.

Lee Samuel Finn, State College

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