Penn State Faculty Senate Discusses Health Care, Privacy
The Penn State Faculty Senate met Tuesday to discuss recent changes to the faculty health care plan. The controversial issue has caused dissent among many university employees.
David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business and Susan Basso, vice president for human resources, along with representatives from Highmark, were on hand to answer questions regarding the changes.
Employees are now required to undergo a biometric screening and a physical examination. Workers also must complete a health risk assessment survey. Those who decline will pay an additional $1,200 for health care coverage.
Basso said because you can opt out of those requirements which she considers to be voluntary.
The new policy also requires workers to use of WebMD Health Services to create a personal health profile.
Having the WebMD profile made many faculty members uneasy. Many say they don't feel safe having all their private health information on the website. Gray said that if information were given out by the website to third parties for non-health related reasons, the penalties for both the university and Highmark would be severe, as they are both held to HIPAA standards.
"We completely understand the natural concerns about private personal health information," Gray said. "None of us would want to see anybody's privacy violated. We have really offered everything we can without jeopardizing the security model of the IT systems."
Mike Fiaschetti, Highmark's president of health markets, said that other programs similar to Penn State's have worked at other locations.
"This is not based on my opinion, it is based on independent reviews of a system that has state of the art security and privacy oversight," Fiaschetti said.
Gray said this program will end up saving the university $62.9 million.