CMU Fiscal Year 2017 Health Care & Wellness Report

Employee health claims continue to climb

Health care costs continue to increase throughout the United States — a trend that has spanned several consecutive years. At Central Michigan University, employee medical and prescription health care claims exceeded $26 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year, an increase of $1.4 million.

Patty Tatham, CMU’s director of benefits and wellness, says new, lifesaving technology and medication provides us with longer, higher-quality lives yet increases the cost of care. The university works to manage the cost of coverage and keep out-of-pocket costs down for employees, while also exploring opportunities to provide excellent care.

The year-over-year increase in health care costs reflects several factors, including:

  • Continued increases in claims. CMU’s average number of medical claims per month increased by more than 450.
  • Inpatient medical care. Inpatient hospitalization costs increased nearly 30 percent.
  • Specialty prescription drugs. Less than 1 percent of our employees, dependents and significant others use specialty drugs, yet those attribute to more than 28 percent of all prescription claims.
  • Diseases and conditions. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease are on the rise, driving cost increases.

A look at claim costs and services

Key highlights from the 2016-17 fiscal year include:

  • Good news on prescription claims. CMU’s average number of monthly prescription claims decreased by nearly 1,000, which helped to offset the cost increase in specialty prescriptions.
  • Continued increase in generic drug use. There was another 1.6 percent increase in the use of generic drugs over the previous year. This means nearly 87 percent of all filled prescriptions were generic drugs.

Total Medical Claims Paid

2017 Total Medical Claims Paid

Total Prescription Claims Paid

Total Prescription Claims Paid

Employees in 2016-17 paid significantly less for their medical and prescription drug coverage compared to 18 percent for single coverage and 30 percent for family coverage nationally.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation 2016 Employer Health Benefit Survey

Medical / Prescription Coverage


CMU Annual Cost

Employee Annual Cost

PPO1/Rx (13%)
PPO2/Rx (0%)
(Payback: Premium - CMU HSA $)


CMU Annual Cost

Employee Annual Cost

PPO1/Rx (13%)
PPO2/Rx (0%)
(Payback: Premium - CMU HSA $)


CMU Annual Cost

Employee Annual Cost

PPO1/Rx (13%)
PPO2/Rx (0%)
(Payback: Premium - CMU HSA $)
For comparison purposes, the annual CMU contribution for family medical/prescription coverage: The cost of undergraduate tuition, books, and room and board for the 2016-17 academic year was $18,892. (according to the CMU - Cost of Attendance website).

Shifting enrollment

With the help of Alex and other decision-support tools, employees have devoted time and effort to better understand benefit options and select the best plan for themselves and their families.

  • Since 2014-15, enrollment in the PPO1 plan has decreased 40 percent while enrollment in the PPO2 plan increased 31 percent.
  • Enrollment in the high deductible and health savings account plan (HDHP) introduced this year is 10 percent.

Supporting employee well-being

CMU employees are dedicated to healthy lifestyles, and it’s paying off.

The employee wellness program continues to expand, with a couple of new programs this year. These include:

  • Naturally Slim – an online program helping participants change how they eat instead of what they eat.
  • Grocery store tours – CMU dietetics students help faculty and staff make healthy choices at the grocery store.

Stepping up our wellness game

Enrollment in the Virgin Pulse wellness rewards program is at 66 percent of all employees and eligible spouses/other eligible individuals. Of those, 64 percent are engaged in earning rewards. In FY 2017, nearly 85 percent of participants became healthier or maintained their healthy state.

FUN FACT: CMU’s Virgin Pulse participants logged nearly 1.8 billion steps in 2016-17!

Wellness adds value – proof is in the study

Since CMU’s Virgin Pulse wellness rewards program launched in 2014, many employees have taken charge of their health. A recent study of the first two years of the rewards program has found:

  • Active participants = lower health care costs. Costs were 11 percent lower for program participants versus nonparticipants at CMU. Claims decrease 45 cents for every additional step on average taken by program participants.
  • Stepping it up. Participants with low starting steps (<5,000 steps per day) have increased by 4,000 steps per day.
  • Lower BMI. Participants have decreased body mass index by 2 points.
  • Decreased blood pressure. Participants with elevated blood pressure when starting the program have decreased it by 20 points.
  • Avoiding injury. The average workers’ compensation claim cost is 2 times higher for nonparticipants than participants.
  • Health at every age. Employees younger than 30 years old are joining the program at a greater rate, but the 30- to 39-year-olds are achieving the highest reward levels.

Health care to fit your life

You have options when it comes to choosing medical care. Save time and money with emergency room alternatives such as the CMU Primary and Specialty Services Clinic and BCBSM Online Healthcare Visit.

Check up on our health care costs

Learn about the performance of the Central Care Plan — CMU’s self-funded medical and dental health plan — throughout the year with the electronic and easy-to-understand Central Care Checkup. Look for the link to quarterly updates in CMU Today.