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Larry MacIntyre
University Communications

Daniel Rives
Associate VP for Administration

Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2010

Incentive plan will help IU employees improve health, contain health care increases

January 11, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Beginning next January, Indiana University's 17,700 full-time employees will be given an opportunity to hold down their share of health insurance costs by meeting certain health and lifestyle objectives.

President's Fitness Challenge

IU employees will be able to participate in a voluntary Personal Health Practices program to lower their share of insurance costs beginning January 2011. The program, which will be phased in over two years, will promote better health by encouraging participants to make healthy lifestyle changes.

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Employees -- and covered spouses or domestic partners -- will be able to earn "credits" to reduce the employee's share of health care premiums deducted from paychecks. The "credits" will substantially reduce what employees would contribute on a monthly basis.

Participation in the new Personal Health Practices program will be voluntary. Employees and spouses will have the option of completing a health risk assessment and a biometric screening to help establish objectives for such measures as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body mass index.

Incentives will be based on meeting these objectives as well as non-use of tobacco, getting needed immunizations and obtaining wellness screenings, such as mammograms and PSA tests, on a timely basis.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie approved the program concept as part of a strategy to control the growth of employee health care costs, which have been rising at an annual rate of 8 to 12 percent.

"This growth rate is no longer sustainable," McRobbie said. "We must do everything within our power to control health care increases. The Personal Health Practices program not only will help us do that, but it will provide real incentives for our employees and their families to live healthier lifestyles."

This year, IU expects to spend about $154 million on employee health care costs. By contrast, employees will spend about $35 million for premium contributions, co-payments and deductibles.

Dan Rives, associate vice president for university human resources, will form a small task force of faculty representatives and health care experts to work out details of the plan, which will be extended to employees on all eight IU campuses.

"The program will be designed to support long-term healthy lifestyle changes that will result in improved health for our employees, and covered spouses or domestic partners, and lower incidences of lifestyle-related chronic medical conditions that consume so much of our health care spending," Rives said. "We are confident that over the long-term this incentive program will assist in improving employee health and help hold down spending growth on health care."

Rives noted that a number of major employers in both the public and private sectors have already installed such plans, and they are proving to have a positive impact on employees' health.

The opportunity to earn incentive "credits" will begin next January when employees' share of health care premiums are expected to rise significantly. This year, employees saw no increase in their premium costs.

The plan is to be phased in over a two-year period. Phase two of the plan, which is expected to be in place no later than January of 2013, will include incentives for following physician treatment plans and prescription drug regimens.

Rives said IU would begin making health risk assessments available next fall so that employees would be ready to start earning "credits" as soon as the plan takes effect in January of 2011.

Creation of health care premium incentives was one of several recommendations made by a Blue Ribbon Study Committee appointed last year by President McRobbie to find ways to reduce the growth of health care costs in the university.