Campus

IU nullifies Health Risk Assessment

POSTED AT 12:55 AM ON Oct. 27, 2010 

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The IU Health Engagement Program will no longer require 17,000 of IU’s full-time employees to fill out an online health survey.

The program is an optional initiative that will begin in 2011 to allow employees covered by an IU medical plan to reduce or eliminate part of their medical plan premiums if they complete health-related activities.

As an effort to assess health risk before the program beings, the online Health Risk Assessment asked employees to answer questions that varied in topic from stress level and alcohol consumption to involvement in religious activities.

But a drive against the online survey drove University officials to nullify it and award the corresponding premium reduction to all the eligible employees.

“Although the assessment was intended to help employees better manage their personal health, it was felt that the University should not implement it without the acceptance and understanding of its employees,” said Dan Rives, associate vice president for human resources, in a press release Monday.

Two other components of the program have not changed, however.

The Tobacco-free Affidavit is for employees and spouses/domestic partners who certify that he or she does not use tobacco product.

The Biometric Screening tests, which help employees and spouses access the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, kidney disease and hardening of arteries.

A review will be conducted early next year to discuss an alternative method to the risk assessment that will help employees achieve their health goals, Rives also said in
the release.

Before the survey was nullified, however, many employees had already filled out the information online.

“It’s always good to have an occasion to reflect on personal health and wellness issues,” said Jillian Kinzie associate director of the National Survey of Student Engagement Institute, part of the IU Center for Postsecondary Research.

Kinzie said she was not entirely comfortable answering the survey, even though she participated.

The section involving religious participation, she said, made her uneasy.

“I wanted not to answer it,” she said. “In fact I think that I did not respond to a couple of the questions. I really objected to some of them because I didn’t consider them to be relevant health questions.”

Other IU employees might have found some of the questions to be unfair in how they assessed an individual.

“My husband’s plant just closed and he transferred jobs so he is not happy in how that figures in,” said IU employee Marilyn Gregory, finance manager for the National Survey of Student Engagement. “To me, that seems like an unfair way to view things. His score was less than ideal, and I don’t know how much that part factored in.”

There were also concerns about the availability of the personal information to IU, but IU Spokesman Larry MacIntyre was quick to dismiss this notion.

“IU would never have had access to any of the answers to any to those questions,” MacIntyre said. “They would have only been looked at by health professionals at Clarian Health; so only people qualified to make health recommendations would see any of that.

 

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