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December 5, 2013

Pitt Benefits

Last Opportunity to Submit Flexible Spending Account Claims

December 31 is the last day to file claims against your Fiscal Year 2013 spending account (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013). This deadline applies for health care, dependent care, parking, and mass transit accounts.

The claims must have been incurred between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. The only exception to this involves health care related claims that were incurred through September 15, 2013. The Benefits Department, in compliance with Internal Revenue Code, is not permitted to grant extensions for Plan Year 2013 expenses submitted after December 31, 2013.  This provision has long been known as “use it or lose it.”

You can view your claims history, submit claims online and obtain claim forms by accessing your MyFlex Advantage account online. Remember, you have single sign-on access through Follow these steps:

  1. Select UPMC Health Plan from the Resources Tab.
  2. Follow the links to the UPMC Health Plan web site.
  3. Select Spending Accounts on the UPMC site.

Any questions regarding your flexible spending account(s) should be referred to UPMC Health Plan at 1-800-499-6885.

Winter Recess

During the winter recess, the Office of Human Resources Department, including the Benefits Department, will remain open with limited staffing and hours to serve you. Please contact us during the open hours if any issues arise that require immediate attention.


UPMC Health Plan Member Services will remain open most days through the winter recess. Their hours are as follows:


You can expect the other carriers will be closed on December 25 and January 1. Most will have limited hours or will be closed on December 24 and December 31.

It’s That Time of Year for New Year’s Resolutions

Listed below are a few of the most common resolutions that we make but more often than not fail to keep. Forbes magazine lists these and the alternative actions we can take to make progress toward those goals. Help is available through the University’s resources at UPMC Health Plan. You can reach out to a health coach who can provide a wealth of programs and other resources to help you. You can reach them at: 1-800-807-0751

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Go on a Diet

Some weight loss experts will tell you flat out, diets don’t work. For many people, unfortunately this is very true. For other people, particularly those whose eating habits are super unhealthy in the first place or who find it easier to cede control over what they eat, they aren’t a bad option.

But typically diets only work for a while – usually for as long as you stick to the carefully regulated plan. And studies show, after a while, most people get tired of following such a strict regimen and go back to eating pretty much what they ate before. Sadly, diets actually make many people gain weight, which a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine attributed to the boomerang action of hormones that control appetite and fat metabolism.

What Does Work:

Make small changes in your eating habits. Here are a few small changes that pack a big calorie punch.

Giving up that daily soda habit: 150 calories saved a day.

Switch from your daily bakery muffin (400-600 calories) to a bowl of oatmeal at your desk (150 calories): 250 – 450 calories saved a day.

Swap your latte (180 calories) for a cup of house java with half and half (80 calories): 100 calories saved.

Better yet, switch from half and half (3 tablespoons = 80 calories) to nonfat milk (3 tablespoons = 15 calories) and save an extra 65 calories per cup.

Total for making all three changes: as many as 765 calories a day. And that’s without eating any more veggies!

Stop Smoking

Well, it’s not that you can’t stop smoking. You can, and you should. Sooner, rather than later. But if you’re waiting for that perfect day when you’ll just be able to stop because you promised yourself you would (likely after a few too many New Year’s Eve toasts), it’s not going to happen.

What Does Work:

Stanford University internist Kelly Traver, MD, is the author of “The Program: The Brain-Smart Approach to the Healthiest You.” Traver has written an entire book about how to use current neurological understanding to make healthy lifestyle changes and can tell you exactly why you should quit and how to quit and stay quit. (There’s even a website and iPhone app based on “The Program” to help you get started.)

Get More Exercise

(Related Resolution: Join a Gym)

The problem with this one is, it’s too vague. In other words, it’s too easy to make a stab at, and then let yourself slide because it’s cold outside, or it’s too dark when you get home, or your muscles hurt, or the gym’s too crowded and the equipment smells sweaty.

What Does Work:

To make a significant lifestyle change and make it stick, you need to replace an old habit (being a couch potato or workaholic) with a new one. You also need to make it pleasant, or at least not too unpleasant.

A few ways to do this are to start a new sport, one you actually like, or join forces with a workout buddy you like and want to spend time with.

Lose 20 Pounds

Like quitting smoking, it’s not that you shouldn’t lose weight. If your body mass index is over 25, you qualify as overweight and you want to tip the scales downwards. But the typical promise, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by June so I can wear a bathing suit,” is not going to be kept. Just ask anyone who made this resolution last year.

What Does Work:

Don’t attach a number to your goal. That’s not to say you shouldn’t watch the scale. While this used to be controversial (and is an absolute no-no for anyone who’s struggled with an eating disorder), recent studies suggest that regular weight checks are important for keeping any weight loss program on track.

What really works:

Calories in < calories out.  Cut out 500 calories a day (see above for ideas) and up your exercise to burn an extra 250 calories a day.

Keep at it, month in and month out, and you’re on track for significant weight loss you can sustain for the rest of your life.

Important Vendor Contact Information

Benefits Department

Office hours: 8 am-5 pm EST, 320 Craig Hall

412-624-8160 (Main Line) • 412-624-3485 (Fax)

Please visit our web site for FAQs, downloadable forms and other benefits information.


UPMC Health Plan



United Concordia 1-877-215-3616


Davis Vision 1-800-999-5431


TIAA-CREF 1-800-682-9139

Vanguard 1-800-523-1188

Flexible Spending Accounts







Faculty Records


UPMC HealthPlan

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