Utah State University faculty and staff who are eligible for benefits will receive a $600 check in the form of a one-time wellness dividend within the next three weeks. USU spokesperson John DeVilbiss said of the dividend, “In the 20 years I’ve been here, we haven’t had anything like this.” According to a statement made by USU President Stan Albrecht, the university experienced lower than expected claims on their self-insured health plan, and it’s because of this that benefit-eligible employees who enrolled in the health care program before July 1 last year are receiving the wellness dividend. Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah benefit-eligible employees will also receive a check from one-time money. University administrators anticipate an increase in future health premium costs for the Logan campus, but it was announced that these costs will be covered centrally and not by individuals. According to Albrecht’s statement, university administrators “hope the wellness dividend, combined with central coverage of the increase in health insurance premiums, will be helpful for everyone, particularly in a year when across-the-board salary increases have not been funded by the state legislature.” USU has encouraged employees to participate in nutrition and fitness activities, and employees have responded. The university has a wellness center for its employees that offers options from free health screenings to personal fitness trainers. The university has also done away with out-of-pocket costs for preventative care and treatments. This encourages employees to get things examined and taken care of before they become big problems. “All of this, it’s starting to show up as a reward to employees to be health conscious,” DeVilbiss said. DeVilbiss said that through preventative care and by employees being conscious of their own fitness and nutrition, he hopes similar wellness dividends will be available in the future.
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