Will the Exercise Facility Reimbursement be reinstated?
Date: July 2017
I noticed that the Exercise Facility Reimbursement webpage states that the fitness center reimbursement will not be extended through the 2017-2018 plan year. Lots of people in my program use this benefit and I thought it was a great way to motivate people to exercise more, so I’m confused as to why it’s being eliminated. Who made the decision to discontinue this benefit and why? Is there a possibility that it will be reinstated in later years or is it gone for good?
Thanks for your time.
Fitness-Conscious PhD Student
Dear Fitness-Conscious PhD Student:
Thanks very much for your Ask a Dean question.
According to Craig McAllister, who oversees the Student Health Plan, the issue of continuing or discontinuing the Exercise Facility Reimbursement program was discussed with the Student Health Benefits Advisory Committee (SHBAC) which includes undergraduate, professional, and graduate student representatives. The SHBAC discussed that the utilization rate for the Reimbursement program was low, and there was no evidence that the program encouraged new members to enroll in and use Cornell Fitness centers, but rather it was valued by students who were already members.
The Exercise Facility Reimbursement program was required by New York State to be part of the health plan prior to 2017-2018, but is no longer required. With changes in the New York State requirements, a smoking cessation program has been included instead for 2017-2018 to promote healthy life habits among students, potentially for a larger number of participants than were involved in the Reimbursement program.
The cost to the Student Health Plan for the Reimbursement program was significant, but with the relatively low number of users of the program, the program was discontinued in favor of helping to keep Student Health Plan premiums down for the 10,000 or so students enrolled in the health plan, along with adding the additional benefit of the smoking cessation program.
If there is strong interest among students to reinstate the Reimbursement program, I encourage you to convey your suggestions to Mr. McAllister at email@example.com so that he can consider this issue in the future with the SHBAC if warranted.
Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School