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October 13, 2011


FitnessForLifeThe Longest Yard Walking Campaign

The Benefits Department once again is offering faculty and staff members, as well as their spouses/domestic partners, the opportunity to participate in a six-week walking campaign. This year’s campaign is titled “The Longest Yard” and like the past three walking campaigns it encourages participants to lead a healthier lifestyle by gradually increasing their physical activity.

The campaign loosely follows a football theme as it starts participants out on the “virtual” Pittsburgh 40-yard line. Participants gradually have to increase their physical activity each week to earn a “first down” and eventually make their way across the goal line and into the end zone to obtain a touchdown. Features of the program include the ability to:

  • Log weekly physical activity minutes or steps;
  • Participate individually or as part of a team;
  • Engage in health coaching through UPMC Health Plan;
  • Receive weekly tips on nutrition and physical activity.

All participants will have a chance to win:

  • Random prizes, such as tickets for home games and T-shirts for logging weekly physical activity minutes or steps;
  • A grand prize of club level tickets to the December 3 Pitt vs. Syracuse football game.

Registration for the campaign began on Friday, October 7. Registration will continue through Sunday, October 16 for  individual participants. The “draft days” are Thursday and Friday, October 13 & 14. The campaign then starts on Monday, October 17 and continues through Friday, November 25.

For more information and to register to participate in the Longest Yard Walking Campaign, visit the web site at: and click on “The Longest Yard 2011” under “Fitness for Life Initiatives/Incentives.”

October Includes National Depression Screening Day

depressionImg1Depression is a treatable medical condition that affects more than 15 million American adults.

  • Symptoms may last for weeks, months, or years. Some people have a few symptoms and others have many.
  • Symptoms may include persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest in activities and hobbies, anxiety, sleeping less or more than usual, trouble concentrating or making decisions, feelings of guilt or helplessness, tiredness, weight loss or gain, and more.
  • There is no blood test or diagnostic test for depression.
  • Diagnosis is enhanced when a person with depression talks openly with his or her primary care physician about family history, feelings, behaviors, and symptoms.
  • The physician will ask questions, do a physical exam, and possibly order lab tests to rule out other physical conditions.
  • Antidepressant medications and behavioral therapy may be prescribed for depression.
  • Exercise, meditation, dietary supplements, and other treatment options also may be useful.
  • Most people who are treated for depression do find relief from their symptoms.
  • Studies show that employees treated for depression overwhelmingly felt that their work improved after treatment.

Life Solutions, the University’s Faculty and Staff  Assistance Program (EAP), can be very helpful in identifying depression, directing you to the right resources for help, and assisting with any other work or life issues.

Please contact Life Solutions for further information at:

You may complete a depression screening at any time. Many may be found on-line. The Fitness for Life Web site provides links to several on-line screening tools. Go to: or call 1-866-647-3432.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast_cancer_ribbonHave you seen a lot of pink lately? It is a reminder that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to WebMD, when it comes to breast cancer screening and detection, not all medical institutions and advocacy groups agree on when women should start getting regular breast cancer screening mammograms.

  • The lifetime risk (to age 85) of a woman developing breast cancer in 1940 was 5% or one in 20; the risk is now 13.4% or almost one in 8.
  • It is estimated that in 2009, there were 192,370 new cases of breast cancer and 40,170 deaths from the disease.
  • Women who undergo breast cancer screening mammograms have demonstrated significantly reduced deaths from the disease.
  • The effectiveness of any breast cancer screening program will depend on how often women are screened, compliance with screening recommendations, and the quality of the screening test.

The following are recommendations for breast cancer screening:

  • Breast examination by a health care provider every three years starting at age 20; annual clinical breast exam starting at age 40.
  • Annual screening mammography starting at age 40 or 50. Breast cancer experts don’t all agree. When you need a mammogram is a personal decision between you and your doctor.
  • Women in high-risk categories should have screening mammograms every year and typically start at an earlier age. MRI or ultrasound screening also can be given in addition to mammograms. Discuss the best approach with your physician.

The University has a 69% compliance rate for mammography screenings for women age 40 and older  (the national average is 70%). However, without 100 percent compliance, our goal falls short. The University benefit program provides for mammography screenings at no out-of-pocket costs.

Take advantage of your wellness benefits. The small investment in time may pay the biggest dividends of your life.

Walgreens Pharmacy May Leave the Express Scripts Network

Recently you may have received a letter from Walgreens Pharmacy regarding their participation in the Express Scripts pharmacy network. At the moment, Walgreens is in contract negotiations with Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager for UPMC Health Plan and many other insurance carriers.

There is a possibility that Walgreens will not be part of the UPMC Health Plan pharmacy network as of the first of the year. However, there is also a possibility that the dispute may be resolved and a contract signed. Typically, contracts require at least a 60-day notice and Walgreens met this obligation by sending the letter. UPMC Health Plan in conjunction with the University’s Benefits Department will notify faculty and staff in November if it appears imminent that Walgreens will discontinue participation in the network through Express Scripts. This timeframe still will allow members an appropriate amount of time to switch to another pharmacy.

The University continues to maintain a very broad pharmacy network. In an era of volume discounting, the trend points towards smaller networks to obtain more favorable pricing.  The University will continue to offer a broad network. However, pharmacies will continue to be added and dropped from the network periodically if they cannot reach a contract agreement with the pharmacy benefit manager. They serve the role of negotiating aggressive discounts that help keep the prescription drug plan affordable for all of us.



UPMC Health Plan

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1-877-215-3616   •


Davis Vision

1-800-999-5431 •



1-800-682-9139    •


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