Low-cost health care options showcased at employee fair

by Nichol Nelson

Nobody was complaining about the line for the free massages at Wednesday’s Employee Health and Benefits Fair.
The line for the free service was more than six people deep, but the faculty and staff in attendance were patient, anticipating their turn at a free massage offered by Boynton Health Services.
Boynton and the Employee Benefits Office co-sponsored the fair, which featured representatives from the University’s medical plans, health information and retirement strategies. Organizers estimated more than 1,500 faculty and staff will attend the fair during its two-day run.
Booths showcased the University’s five health care choices, including a new low-cost option that allows faculty to get care from University doctors.
The fair was created more than 10 years ago to help faculty and staff understand their choices for health care at the University. Faculty and staff can change health care plans every year.
Betty Gilchrist, communications coordinator for the Employee Benefits Office, said the fair has expanded to include a health promotion aspect, as well as information regarding retirement.
“We want to make sure all of the information is out there,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist emphasized the importance of providing a place for faculty and staff to talk about their health care options.
“There’s something about being able to talk to representatives from health care plans face to face,” she said.
Carmen Shoberg, a representative for University Physicians, said the new low-cost option signifies a big improvement for University faculty and doctors.
“I think it matters a lot to the physicians,” she said. “They want to be able to care for the University community.”
Goldy Gopher rolled the dice at a Boynton booth designed to quiz attendees about Boynton’s stress-relief services. After answering a question correctly, Goldy was awarded a Tylenol-shaped first-aid kit.
Dave Dorman, a Boynton representative running the quiz, said the fair was a good way to publicize Boynton’s efforts to expand stress-relief services. He noted that classes in tai chi, yoga and meditation are offered free to students. The classes run daily around noon at Boynton.
A table full of literature gave attendees information on health topics ranging from cancer to heart disease. A Northern States Power safety display was adjacent to the table of pamphlets, educating fair-goers on the danger of live electrical wires.
NSP employee Harold Mueller used a six-inch plastic ninja figurine to demonstrate how electrocution can occur. When Mueller touched the small doll to a live wire, it lit up with electricity and smoked profusely.
Faculty and staff in attendance were enthusiastic about the fair.
Candy Holmes, an administrator in the Center for Bioethics, carried a bag full of free samples and literature through the fair.
“It’s very helpful because people are here to answer questions,” she said. “There is a lot of information here.”