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April 30, 2015

Pitt Benefits

FitnessForLifeMedical Program

The open enrollment period began Monday, April 27, and extends through Tuesday, May 19. There are very few changes overall. The most important and appealing news is that there will be no increase in employee contributions for the upcoming plan year!

During this annual open enrollment period and in future years, your open enrollment packet is available anywhere, anytime, online at:

Identical hard copy paper packets will be delivered to departments for distribution starting the week of May 4.

Open enrollment is the once-a-year opportunity to:

  • Review all of the health and welfare benefit offerings
  • Make a change if desired to your current health and welfare plans
  • Add or remove dependents from your benefit plans

If you would like to make changes to your current benefit elections, please do so through Employee Self Service on the University portal at Step-by-step instructions to access the self-service module may be found at the open enrollment site as well as in the mailed packets.

Please note that if you do not want to make changes to your current benefit elections, no action is needed. Re-enrollment in the medical plans is not required for the new Plan Year.

Outside of the open enrollment period, you can only change the plans you have selected and the dependents that you are covering on the plans if you experience a qualified change in status (e.g. marriage, divorce, birth of a child, change in spouse/partner’s employment, etc.). Changes must be made within 60 days of the event.

Changes to the PPO Plans

The three primary Preferred Provider Option (PPO) plans have been in place without any notable changes since 2003.

Panther Premier and Panther Advocate Are Merging

Beginning July 1, 2015, PPO Panther Premier and Panther Advocate plans will be merged. Since the plan designs are virtually identical, by merging these plans we are able to offer the former Panther Premier participants the opportunity to take advantage of a Health Incentive Account (HIA).

In the past, the HIA only was offered with the Panther Advocate option. The merged plan will adopt the Panther Advocate name. For the new plan year, participants in Panther Advocate can earn $200 in credits if they have single coverage and $400 if they have family coverage. To simplify the administration, starting in July, any wellness incentives that you earn will be loaded onto a UPMC FlexAdvantage Visa debit card. Your “earnings” will be more accessible and easier to track. The new process will be much easier to follow. You may use your current flexible spending account card to access the incentive credits. You will be issued a FlexAdvantage card for the Panther Advocate plan if you currently do not participate in the flexible spending account program. We hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity and actively participate in wellness activities!

Please  Note:  If you are a current Panther Premier participant, you automatically will become a member of the Panther Advocate plan unless you make an election to do otherwise. New ID cards for former Panther Premier participants will be issued. This change should be communicated to your health care providers.

The out of pocket maximum for this plan is increasing as follows:

Individual:     $1,500 to $2,000

Family:          $3,000 to $4,000

Panther Plus

The out of pocket maximum for this plan is increasing as follows:

Individual:    $2,250 to $3,000

Family:        $4,500 to $6,000

Panther Basic

The Panther Basic Plan will remain a $0 premium plan for the individual and parent and child(ren) tier levels for the new plan year.

The plan will be modified to qualify as a high-deductible health plan in accordance with IRS guidelines. This results in the individual deductible increasing from $1,000 to $1,500, while the family deductible changes from $2,000 to $3,000.

This modification allows the University to offer a Health Savings Account (HSA) with Panther Basic. There are annual limits on the amount that can be contributed to an HSA. For calendar year 2015, the contribution limit for an individual is $3,350 and for a family is $6,650. Individuals 55 years old or over can make an additional $1,000 contribution. Additional information regarding the HSA option is available at:

The intent behind high-deductible plans also known as consumer-driven plans involves offering a lower premium in exchange for a higher deductible. The savings derived from having a lower premium can be placed into the HSA account, which is tax-exempt. Savings placed into this account can become an investment vehicle with earned interest which also is tax-exempt. Finally, the funds can be withdrawn tax-free for eligible expenses or even retained for use in retirement.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Health Care Flexible Spending Account

The annual maximum for the health care flexible spending account has increased to $2,550. If you would like to increase your deduction to meet the annual maximum, you will need to go through the self-service process. Additionally, the federal government now allows participants to roll over a maximum of $500 from the FY15 plan year to the FY16 plan year. The rollover is effective on July 1, 2015. This effectively minimizes the “use it or lose it” provision, but only for health care flexible spending accounts. The 2-month extension (until September 15) to incur a claim and file it against the former plan year is no longer available.

Dental and Vision Programs

The dental and vision programs remain unchanged for FY 2016. Both the plan designs and the premiums remain the same.

Training Sessions


Corporate Wellness Challenge

In a unique interdepartmental effort to promote wellness, the Benefits Department and the Department of Health and Physical Activity, working in partnership with the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health (PBGH), launched the Move It & Lose It Corporate Wellness Challenge on March 2. The eight-week competition based on step tracking ended on April 26.

The PBGH Corporate Wellness Challenge is associated with the American Heart Association’s Walking Program, a physical activity initiative to fight heart disease and stroke by reaching people through workplace walking programs. A kickoff event was held on March 3 in the WPU Kurtzman Room with University of Pittsburgh interns presenting information on health and nutrition topics, various physical activities and raffle door prizes.

This challenge enabled faculty and staff to compete with each other, on teams and with other local corporations’ employees. With the goal of health and wellness, the competition tracked one’s physical activity and turned it into miles for individuals or their team. Physical activity was not limited to walking; employees were encouraged to track activities such as gardening, golfing, biking, cleaning and more! The Department of Health and Physical Activity’s graduate students played a key part in making the PBGH Corporate Wellness Program a success.

The program also was supplemented by the workplace activity program, Be Fit Pitt, a subscription-based text or email reminder to get up and get moving during the work day.

You can subscribe to Be Fit Pitt by following five steps:

  1. Go to
  2. In the far upper right hand corner, click on “Profile.”
  3. Click on “Pitt Text Message Updates” on the left hand side of the page.
  4. Check the box “Contact Me By.”
  5. Check “Health and Fitness Program” from the menu.

Over 130 University Faculty and Staff participated in this year’s challenge. The final results have not been released.