Penn State now offering bonus to employees who opt in to wellness program

mdawson@centredaily.comOctober 1, 2013 

  • BY THE NUMBERS

    $100: Bonus for employees who complete the wellness program’s three components

    $150: Bonus if employee and his or her spouse or same-sex partner complete the wellness program requirements

    Nov. 22: Deadline to complete the steps to receive the bonus

    $1.2 million: Projected, one-time cost for Penn State to distribute the bonuses to participating employees

Penn State employees who complete the new wellness health program will be rewarded for their participation, the university announced Tuesday.

Penn State will give $100 to each employee who completes an online health profile through WebMD, has a biometric screening done and agrees to see a doctor for a preventative-care medical exam. Spouses or same-sex partners who go through the same process will bump up the level of the bonus to $150 total, the university said.

Employees must complete all three requirements by Nov. 22, and the money will be deposited into their bank account in January.

“This is being done as a way of recognizing the many benefits-enrolled employees who are participating in the initiative, in light of the suspension of the penalty that originally had been tied to nonparticipation,” said Susan Basso, Penn State’s vice president for human resources, in a statement Tuesday.

In addition, the university said employees who don’t want to have their medical information stored online as part of the WebMD health profile can request the data be deleted.

The reward in the “Take Care of Your Health Initiative” is the latest of several changes during the past few weeks to the wellness program after employees decried it as coercive and invasive.

The program originally called for a $100 surcharge on employees who did not participate in the wellness program, as well as other provisions, such as a $75 monthly surcharge on smokers and a $100 monthly surcharge to employees whose spouses or partners use the university’s insurance even though they have benefits through their own employers.

Two weeks ago, the university dropped the $100 surcharge on those who do not complete the wellness program’s requirements after Penn State Faculty Senate members voiced concerns to the administrators during a meeting.

In addition, administrators said they will convene a task force that will look into alternatives for implementing the health care program, and they promised to call upon faculty and staff expertise in considering ways to control expenses. Faculty members criticized the university for not using the expertise on campus when it came to developing the wellness program.

So far, more the majority of Penn State employees have participated in the plan. Almost 10,300 people have gotten the biometric screening, and 9,710 employees have completed the online profile through WebMD. About 8,700 workers have made the promise to see a doctor for a preventative medical exam.

Spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said the university has projected the reward to be a one-time expense of $1.2 million.

“Penn State’s challenge with the trajectory of health care costs is a multiyear issue,” said Mountz. “The one-time reward will not significantly alter the long-term picture for the university’s health cost structure.”

Employees who have submitted medical information through WebMD for the online wellness profile can delete the data, Penn State said in the announcement. Instructions on how to delete the information is available online at http://bit.ly/171yZgG.

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