'Take Care of Your Health' sees record participation following announcement

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As part of a strategic plan to better control health care costs for the University and its faculty and staff, Penn State officials announced the 'Take Care of Your Health” initiative earlier this month. In preparation for 2014 Benefits Open Enrollment, the wellness-focused initiative is designed to help employees and their spouse or same-sex domestic partner (SSDP) learn about possible health risks and take proactive steps to enhance their well-being.

Each year, benefits-enrolled employees and their spouse/SSDP will need to complete the steps of the Take Care of Your Health initiative in order to avoid a $100 monthly surcharge. Comprehensive information about the initiative is available online at http://ohr.psu.edu/benefits, including frequently asked questions, a recorded presentation and links to other important information.

The initiative encourages benefits-enrolled employees to receive a biometric screening, offered free at all campus locations. In addition, benefits-enrolled employees and their spouse/SSDP must complete an online wellness profile and attest that they have had or will schedule an annual physical exam.

Since the Take Care of Your Health initiative was announced July 11, Office of Human Resources officials have noted that as of today (July 25) more than 26 percent of available biometric screening appointments have been filled and more than 2,700 individuals already have completed the wellness profile and physical exam attestations online through Highmark.com.

“This is a positive response to an initiative that was only announced one week ago. We are pleased that employees are taking the opportunity to learn about their health in these ways,” said Robin Oswald, director of employee benefits. “We have offered wellness programs on a voluntary basis for almost 20 years, and the participation rate during the last 10 days has been extraordinary compared with any one program we’ve ever offered.” 

It is important to emphasize that Penn State will not have access to an individual’s health records, will never ask for those records, and will not charge an employee additional fees based on the results of any medical test or physical examination. Update: Information as of Aug. 1, provided from Highmark Blue Shield about its and WebMD's Health Services programs -- including an explanation of its concerns about privacy and security -- has been posted to the Office of Human Resources' Benefits Enrollment page under the section titled "Your Confidentiality Matters."

The biometric screening, which is required for benefits-enrolled employees only, includes a fasting full lipid profile and random glucose test, collected via finger stick; weight, height and waist circumference measurement; and a blood pressure check. All of these screenings help identify potential risk factors.

“The Office of Human Resources has provided biometric screenings to all Penn State employees on a voluntary basis many times over the years. These screenings have helped numerous employees recognize a health issue. There have been times where we have encouraged employees to seek treatment immediately due to extremely high blood pressure results,” said Cassandra Kitko, assistant manager of health initiatives.

The biometric screenings for the Take Care of Your Health initiative are being performed by Highmark Blue Shield’s contracted vendor, Integrated Corporate Health (ICH), and must be completed by Oct. 8. At University Park, Penn State Hershey Medical Group will assist with the program and will provide each participant with a comprehensive review of their results. At other campuses, ICH staff will provide the review. Schedules for the screenings at each campus are available at http://ohr.psu.edu/benefits/benefits-enrollment.

Mobile units from Highmark also will offer employees and their spouse/SSDP opportunities at each campus for help with the completion of the wellness profile. Instructions for completing the wellness profile and certification of the annual physical exam, as well as a mobile-unit schedule, also are available at http://ohr.psu.edu/benefits/benefits-enrollment.

Highmark Blue Shield is available at 800-914-4384 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to assist employees with this initiative and technical issues.

Employees who have questions about this or any of the initiatives are encouraged to contact their human resources representatives, or to contact the Penn State Office of Human Resources at benefits@psu.edu or 814-865-1473.

Employees who are a part of the University’s Teamsters’ collective bargaining agreement will not see any health care benefit changes during the current contract term, which expires June 30, 2014.

Contacts: 
Last Updated August 22, 2013