PITTSBURGH, (November 22, 2004) In an effort to directly address vital health care issues in the workplace, UPMC Health Plan and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have begun a joint venture called My Health. This initiative is being offered to approximately 24,000 UPMC employees, who also are members of the UPMC Health Plan, and involves such features as online health risk assessments and workplace screenings. The program allows employees to learn about their health status and take action to make positive changes designed to improve their quality of life.
Through this program, UPMC Health Plan will be testing the concept that providing more information about health, coupled with incentives to take action and personal assistance to change unhealthy behaviors, can not only address major public health problems but also help curb rising health care costs.
According to Jeffrey Romoff, president, UPMC, "Because UPMC is an insurer, provider and employer, ours is a unique laboratory. My Health should be able to give us valuable aggregate data about our employee base, pinpoint problem areas, and lead to the development of new programs that can address the particular health concerns of our workforce." He went on to say that while consumer-driven health care is often just a euphemism for consumer paid health care, this program truly makes the consumer a partner in the management of his or her own health.
My Health, a voluntary program, begins with the employee responding to a confidential, online personal health questionnaire. Upon its completion, an evaluation of the employee's health status is immediately made available to the employee with feedback about lifestyle or behavior changes that could improve the individual's health. This evaluation also can serve as a blueprint for a discussion between employees and their physicians. To date, nearly 20,000 UPMC employees have completed this questionnaire.
This year, UPMC is adding for its employee group a $200 deductible for individuals, and a $400 deductible for families, for hospital and laboratory expenses. For those UPMC employees who are Health Plan members and complete this online questionnaire, the deductible is waived, thus adding a financial incentive for participation.
"Our goal is to help our employees improve their health by assisting them in optimizing the resources and expertise available through UPMC and the Health Plan," said Diane P. Holder, president, UPMC Health Plan. "UPMC wants to partner with its employees to affect positive change - a change for healthier lives. Additionally, it is our hope that we can create a model that, in the long run, will improve health and reduce costs. "
The second element of My Health is a free health screening for height, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. So far, more than 1,600 employees have participated in these workplace screenings and more than 2,500 are scheduled for upcoming appointments. Screening results are confidential and not shared with the employer, but are sent to a health care provider selected by the employee. All those who elect to participate in the screening receive a free Family Health Guide and are eligible to win raffle prizes.
If medical conditions that need attention are identified through the screening or questionnaire, employees are encouraged to schedule appointments with their providers. Furthermore, employees who have an existing health condition such as diabetes or asthma and a related health risk - such as obesity or smoking - have the opportunity to be referred through their doctor to UPMC Health Plan coaches. Health coaches will assist members in accessing resources and developing individual plans for weight loss and smoking cessation. As part of My Health, the Health Plan also is engaged in continuing education with physicians about how to work effectively with patients to help them change their at-risk behaviors, such as smoking, unhealthy eating, or lack of exercise.
If successful, UPMC Health Plan intends to offer the program to additional interested employer groups in 2005 and eventually export the product.
About UPMC Health Plan
UPMC Health Plan is a health benefits company based in Pittsburgh, Pa., which serves more than 440,000 members with its commercial insurance, Medical Assistance and Medicare Advantage products. More than 325,000 members have enrolled through one of the Health Plan's 6,000-plus employer group business partners. UPMC Health Plan is a subsidiary of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). UPMC is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, and is a worldwide center of excellence for medical research and treatment. UPMC is the largest employer in western Pennsylvaniaand one of the nation's premier health care delivery organizations.