A Culture of Health
The recommendations put forth by the President’s Health Care Advisory Committee (HCAC) included recognition and consideration of the six guiding principles, as well as the principle of fostering and promoting a culture of health, which is a priority in the University’s 2016-2020 strategic plan. This principle calls for plan features and programs that encourage a healthy community, promote healthy choices and activities, and support the consistent and effective management of health risks.
The University believes it is well-positioned to play an integral role in achieving a healthy community by infusing health into everyday operations and business practices. Some examples include:
Penn State Health Care Partners
A strong example of effectively managing health risks is the University’s participation in a clinically integrated network with Penn State Health Care Partners (PSHCP). Penn State employees and their adult dependents living in Centre County may receive calls this summer from PSHCP’s care managers as part of a free and innovative pilot program to provide employees and their families access to broader resources to better monitor and manage health conditions, especially chronic conditions, with the goal of mitigating progression to more serious illness and, consequently, curtailing rising health care costs.
The creation of a data warehouse will allow Penn State to develop more precise strategies through data-driven decision making. A data warehouse can be used to examine and compile information about diagnosed chronic conditions, such as diabetes, to explore patterns that could identify areas for better management of the condition in that population. For example, to what degree is the group seeing a physician and filling necessary prescriptions? Are they having regular assessments, as appropriate, to monitor their condition? Once this information is known, outreach to individuals with chronic conditions through Penn State Health Care Partners is one strategy to help employees better manage their conditions and receive free, private consultation and guidance. Because data is presented on an aggregate basis, with no specific member data provided to the employer, employee privacy is maintained, and Penn State will not know any information about an individual employee’s medical condition or their treatment history.
Video: Dennis P. Scanlon, Ph.D., discusses data warehousing and how it can help Penn State improve its medical benefits plan and keep costs low.
Cost transparency tool
Providing a cost transparency tool for health plan subscribers is another component that should help employees understand the costs for all services, whether they are preventive, diagnostic, in-patient, out-patient, or other professional services. As an example, knowing which services are covered as preventive at 100 percent versus those that may require out-of-pocket expenses for diagnostic tests can be found through the tool, allowing employees to make better informed economic and quality decisions on where they want to receive their care. The current preventive schedule is available here.
Explore tobacco-free campuses and provide incentives for employees who demonstrate tobacco-free lifestyles
From a health standpoint, a tobacco-free campus is to the benefit of all employees, and should be a laudable goal. Depending on the study, the additional medical claims a tobacco user incurs to a health plan each year is between $1,000 and $3,000 annually. To help defray the cost of additional claims that tobacco users incur, Penn State could consider plan design and cost-sharing differentials for tobacco users, promote the tobacco-cessation products that are available through both the PPO Blue and PPO Savings plans, and establish a tobacco-free University with expanded cessation support for employees.
Penn State Health and Wellness Center
In February 2017, the Penn State Employee Health and Wellness Center opened on the University Park campus and provide convenient service for episodic illness. Expansion of the services to include health and wellness education is also planned for the center in late 2017. A future opportunity that will be explored is extending the wellness clinic services model to other Penn State campuses.
Cost-effective sites of service
Penn State is exploring opportunities to provide procedures and testing in convenient locations on or near all campuses at a reduced cost to both the University and the employee.
Penn State is partnering with Quest Diagnostics on a voluntary program to provide University medical plan members and their covered dependents the opportunity to save money when they choose to have non-urgent laboratory testing, such as blood and urine testing, cytology, pathology and cultures, completed at a Quest Diagnostics facility. This voluntary program provides high-quality laboratory testing at a reduced cost to both University medical plan members and the University.
Near the end of 2016, most of the University’s medical plan members began to receive in the mail a laboratory card to be shared with their medical provider, as well as an insurance card to communicate the employee’s preference for using Quest Diagnostics. That card should also be shared by University medical plan participants at a Quest Diagnostics site.
The program is voluntary, but by using the laboratory card at a Quest Diagnostics patient service center, or by requesting that the provider send lab samples to Quest, University medical plan members will pay a lower out-of-pocket expense for outpatient laboratory tests, compared to a doctor’s office or hospital lab. For example:
- the average cost for a Lipid Panel (cholesterol test) at a non-Quest lab is $62.23, while the Quest lab estimated cost is $12.77 – an approximate savings of $49.46.
- the average cost for a Complete Blood Count (CBC) at a non-Quest lab is $39.10, and the Quest lab estimated cost is $7.41 – an approximate savings of $31.69.
Along with saving money, there are additional advantages to having laboratory testing done at a Quest facility, including:
- Online scheduling will help University medical plan members and their covered dependents avoid waiting in line. Quest invites participants to “Reserve a time and skip the line!”
- Convenient locations close to campus with free parking.
- Easy online access to your results at MyQuest.com.
University medical plan members can find local Quest facilities and make appointments at Quest Diagnostics’ website.