Early Retirement Incentive Plan
Indiana University is confronted with a series of fiscal constraints, including a possible reduction in state appropriations for FY 2011/2012, while healthcare and retirement benefits, utilities, and other expenses are increasing.
To assist vice presidents, chancellors, and deans in meeting the above challenges, the University is offering certain employees a one-time separation incentive: the Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP). This voluntary separation plan will allow eligible participants to retire earlier than otherwise expected. Separations under this plan are intended to support units in achieving specific institutional objectives:
- Reduce salary/wage and benefit expenses
- Redirect positions to focus on higher priorities
- Avoid or minimize future involuntary reductions in personnel
A preliminary review of the University's records indicates there are 2,566 potential applicants of ERIP. These employees were sent a letter informing them about ERIP, including how and when to apply. The ERIP provides three incentives not normally provided to separating employees:
- Income Replacement Payment
- Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)
- Medical coverage eligibility until Medicare age (65)
A Web site provides detailed ERIP information, materials, and assistance, including an online application portal. The application period is from April 18 to May 13, 2011. Visit the site at hr.iu.edu/erip.
University Human Resources held campus information sessions in March and April to provide employees an overview of ERIP provisions. Ongoing assistance offered by UHRS includes individual retirement counseling and resources for ERIP applicants regarding how to initiate retirement income benefits.
Key Points to Note
- Application for the ERIP is strictly voluntary.
- ERIP is not an employee entitlement.
- Vice presidents, chancellors, and deans must substantiate ERIP separations as meeting one or more of the above institutional objectives.
The University offers various benefits to assist employees with work-life issues. These plans are fully paid by the University except for extended Eldercare services.
- IU Employee Assistance Program (IUEAP)
- Eldercare Plan
- Healthy Lifestyles Plans
- Tobacco cessation
- Weight reduction and nutrition
IU Employee Assistance Program (IUEAP)
The IUEAP provides help when day-to-day activities are interrupted by stress. IUEAP services are confidential, voluntary and fully paid by the University. Reasons to use IUEAP include depression, stress and anxiety, conflict in the workplace, drug and alcohol abuse, family and marital problems, and grief or loss of a family member or friend.
Full-time Academic and Staff employees and their household members are eligible. Supervisors may also use IUEAP services as a resource for a troubled employee. In the event of a traumatic situation in the workplace, counselors can make onsite visits to provide critical incident debriefing.
Obtaining services starts with a phone call to 888-234-8327 or 317-962-2622 where a qualified EAP professional makes an initial assessment. Assistance ranges from emergency telephone support to referrals for an appointment with a licensed clinician. With an EAP referral, participants are eligible for up to six visits with a professional counselor, per year.
The University's Eldercare Plan is available to help employees who are in a caregiver role for an aging parent or loved one. Services range from answering questions to proactive planning for eldercare needs.
All full-time Academic and Staff employees are eligible to receive these services provided through My Health Care Manager, LLC. Employees can privately discuss their concerns by telephone with an experienced nurse and receive personalized assistance. An initial fact-finding consultation and summary report of care issues and recommendations is fully paid by the University. Additional Eldercare services are available at negotiated special group rates.
Healthy Lifestyles Plans
IU offers two plans specifically designed to help employees maintain or improve their health. These plans are available to full-time Academic and Staff employees and their spouses/domestic partners who are covered under an IU-sponsored medical plan.
Quit For Life® Program
The Quit For Life Program offers an integrated mix of support tools to help individuals stop using tobacco products. The program is telephone based and accessible across all IU campuses.
- Five coaching calls with a "Quit Coach"
- Nicotine replacement therapy (as needed)
- One year of follow-up phone and Web assistance
To enroll in Quit For Life, call 1-866-784-8454 or visit the Quit For Life Program Web site.
Mind & Body® Plan
The Mind & Body Plan helps individuals reduce weight and waist size permanently, and address other risk factors that lead to diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. The plan coaches participants in healthy living and lasts one year.
Plan participants will be part of a private, online community in which they complete courses, track progress, and interact with others in the program. Expert guidance is provided through phone and online interactions with Mind & Body coaches, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists who are highly trained in motivating behavior change, exercise, and healthy eating. To enroll, visit the Mind & Body Program Web site.
The cost of health care has been continually rising for several decades and medical plan premiums rise in response to increased costs. In 2008, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), report, "The Factors Fueling Rising Health Costs," focused on the 6.1 percent increase in premiums in 2007. General inflation accounts for 46 percent of the increase; the remaining is attributed to price increases greater than inflation and increased utilization of services—the focus of this article.
Increases in healthcare prices in excess of inflation
Increases in healthcare prices beyond general inflation accounts for approximately 30 percent of the 2007 premium increase. The following is a summary of major factors that drive price increases.
- Reduced provider competition—Consumers prefer broad provider networks but such networks tend to reduce competition which contributes to price increases.
- Cost Shifting—Providers tend to shift unreimbursed costs (i.e., public programs and the uninsured) to self-insured employers, such as IU, and to private medical insurance plans.
- Higher Priced Technologies—New technologies, including new prescription drugs and new imaging technologies, are often more expensive than existing ones.
Increase in Use of Services
Increased utilization of services accounts for approximately 25 percent of the increase in premiums. This increase of use is driven by the following:
- New treatments (e.g., imaging technologies, biologics, injectables for serious illnesses, and "lifestyle" drugs)
- Lifestyle (obesity, smoking, drug abuse, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity)
- More intensive diagnostic testing and defensive medicine
PwC broke down the types of services even further into the component categories shown below.
Type of service
Percent of growth in health premium
Physician and clinical
Other medical services
A link to the full report is at hr.iu.edu/blueribbonmaterial.html.
The 30th Surgeon General Report on tobacco-related issues was released in December 2010. This new report details the serious health effects of even brief exposure to tobacco smoke. It concludes that:
- Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 70 that cause cancer.
- Every exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage DNA in a way that leads to cancer.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke has an immediate impact on the cardiovascular system: damaging blood vessels, making blood more likely to clot, and increasing risks for heart attack and stroke.
- Smoking makes it harder for women to get pregnant and can cause miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. It also harms male fertility.
For a copy of the full report see www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/tobaccosmoke/.