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FEATURE


employees who don’t have access to health insurance elsewhere,” he adds. “Of our total employees,” says


Wellik, “More than 20 percent are PT or p.r.n., and they are eligible to participate in the company’s 401(k) plan. That has been very popular with the p.r.n. staff. We started offering the 401(k) benefit to our p.r.n. staff seven to eight years ago, and at that point, not many in the industry were doing that.” USPI relies on two large health in- surance companies to be able to offer broad contracting coverage across the country. “We offer plans that have dif- ferent levels of deductibles, which is attractive to our employees, and par- ticularly the nurses,” Wellik says. “We weight our cost sharing slightly in fa- vor of employee and child coverage so that employees covering their children get a little more benefit than what we offer spouses.”


One health benefits plan that


hasn’t proven popular in the ASC setting, says Wellik, is the consumer- driven health plan—a high-deduct- ible health plan that is paired with a health savings account (HSA). “USPI deposits a certain amount of money in that account, and the net out-of- pocket cost to the employee should be very similar to the other plans, but employees don’t seem to under- stand it.” Under the plan, employers can make non-taxable deposits to the employees’ HSA bank accounts and employees can use that money for medical expenses. The annual amount is $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family. If employees use the money for anything else, they have to pay tax on it. “We’re well below 20 percent par- ticipation in that plan,” Wellik says. “We’d like to have more people en- rolled. If that’s the only option that you offer, there’d be more participation. Our competition, such as large health systems and hospitals, however, hasn’t gone in that direction, so from a com- petitive stand point, we can’t, either.”


USPI also has implemented a well-


ness program, Wellik says. In that program, employees participate in a biometric screening where an occu- pational health professional comes to the facility and does a blood pressure test and some other basic screenings. In addition, the employees are asked to complete an online wellness profile and get a $50 reward when they do. “We get a snapshot of what the health issues of our employees are, and we can work on the challenges to address those issues, such as a weight- loss program or walking challenge,” says Wellik. “If they get through two challenges in a year, they get $250. We also assess a $600 surcharge on all of


tion of sick and vacation time, and that works pretty well. One of the challeng- es here again is being competitive with hospitals because others have been very generous with paid time off. It’s very expensive. We have to work for 90 days before we are eligible to use PTO, but some start-up places are giv- ing PTO from day one. People are very aggressive on it.” The company offers a full menu of benefits, including life insurance, dis- ability and other basic group insurance coverage. “We also match contributions to a 401(k) plan at 50 percent for the first six percent,” says Wellik. “Employ- ees can put up to 50 percent of their earnings in their 401(k), subject to an-


Having an employee assistance program (EAP) is important in an ASC setting. An EAP helps employees with life challenges.”


—Katie Lamb, AmSurg


our employees enrolling in our health benefit plans who admit to tobacco use. Our employees can participate in a tobacco cessation program for free even if they don’t have health benefits through us.” A wellness program can be diffi- cult to implement in an ASC because the employees come into the facility when they’re needed and leave when they’re done, Wellik says. “There’s not a whole lot of down time to take part in the program.” For the employer, he adds, the benefits of such a program are longer term. “You have healthier employees and, therefore, happier em- ployees. And if you have a healthier employee population, your health in- surance claims go down.” USPI also offers PTO to its em-


ployees. “The concept of a PTO bank is very common in the health care in- dustry,” Wellik says. “It’s a combina-


nual Internal Revenue Service limits, and that has been very popular with some of our p.r.n. employees or others for whom their USPI job isn’t the pri- mary source of family income.” Like USPI, Symbion Healthcare


offers a lot more than health benefits. “We pay for term life insurance for each employee in the amount of one time their salary and a large portion of medical insurance premiums for dependents,” says Sharon Terry, vice president of human resources. “We of- fer benefits, such as time off for jury duty, voting and bereavement, and ac- cess to benefits that are competitive within the ASC’s local market, which includes bariatric surgery in some of our locations.” AmSurg offers an employee as- sistance program (EAP) to its em- ployees. “Understanding an ASC employee’s requirements is critical in


ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2013 17


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