Open enrollment: Oct. 29-Nov. 24
October 23, 2009
By Dave Jones
Your open enrollment packet this year looks to be easier to comprehend than the health reform legislation moving through Congress.
All of UC’s health plans from 2009 are back, with no plans being added, and the changes are minimal, said Bill Brooks, benefits manager for Human Resources on the Davis campus. As in years past, your salary will determine your health care premium: the more you make, the more you pay. The four salary bands will remain unchanged in 2010.
The same dental and vision plans will be offered to eligible employees, still at no cost.
The UC Office of the President’s At Your Service Web site has this to say: “The coming year will be a year of stability when it comes to your UC benefits, and that’s good news — for your wallet as well as your coverage. Despite facing historic budget challenges, the university has worked very hard throughout this year to preserve your health benefits and control costs.”
Still, most monthly rates are going up. The pain is far less for health maintenance organization subscribers than for people who opt for, say, Anthem Blue Cross PPO (preferred provider organization).
Brooks said three-quarters of eligible UC employees systemwide are HMO enrollees; UC Davis’ HMO choices are Kaiser Permanente, Western Health Advantage and Health Net.
For single employees with HMO coverage, as an example, the increases range from 78 cents to $10.39 a month for Kaiser and WHA, and $2.24 to $13.09 a month for Health Net. The Anthem Blue Cross PPO, which lowered its rates last year, is bringing them back up, based on increased use and high-cost claims, Brooks said. Family rates, for example, are going up from $182.45 to $213.83 a month.
Offsetting factors: For a prescription of a generic medication, all three HMOs will charge $5 instead of $10 for in-pharmacy purchases or $10 instead of $20 for mail order; and Anthem Blue Cross PLUS and PPO will charge $10 instead of $15 for pharmacy purchases. Also, some mental health benefits have been expanded.
(At the same time, Kaiser will limit prescriptions to 30-day supplies at plan pharmacies, and start collecting two co-pays rather than one for up-to-100-day supplies by mail order; the other plans already charge two co-pays for 90-day supplies.)
Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for Human Resources, said: “Given the financial sacrifices many of our employees are already making, it was especially important that we do everything possible to mitigate rising health care costs and not simply pass on increases to employees.”
UC will continue to pay, on average 88 percent of health care premiums, compared with 80 percent for all California employees and 76 percent for the California Public Employees retirement System, or CalPERS.
Existing program ‘unsustainable’
Duckett added a caveat for the future: “We know health care costs are projected to increase in 2011 and well into the future. Health care costs have already risen more than 130 percent in the past 10 years. Given that certainty, our program design with its current trajectory and associated costs is unsustainable.
“We have to chart a new course, redesign programs and innovate with regard to health care now. Otherwise, we jeopardize our ability to provide quality health care to our employees. My staff, along with experts in the health care field — some of which are UC colleagues — will spend the next year focused on this enormous task. Many of you will be involved in giving us feed–back about what you value and the health care choices you’d like to see in our plans.”
Duckett on video, talking about health benefits: atyourservice.ucop.edu (click on “Open Enrollment”).
Legal plan open to new members
The ARAG legal plan will be open for new enrollment; this is not a given every year. In addition, all employees are invited to download ARAG’s living will and health care power of attorney forms for free — sort of a “try before you buy” deal, Brooks said. The forms are available online: members.ARAGgroup.com/ucop. ARAG’s monthly rates for 2010 are the same as for 2009: Single — $10.02, one adult and children, or two adults — $13.78, and family — $15.03.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Open enrollment, annual opportunity to make changes in benefits coverage.
WHEN: 8 a.m. Oct. 29 to 5 p.m. Nov. 24. (NOTE: The deadline has been moved up from midnight.)
WHO: Anyone making a change, and anyone who wishes to renew or establish a tax-saving flexible spending account for dependent care or medical expenses. (NOTE: FSA accounts do not automatically renew; if you want an FSA, you must sign up again.) If you are not making any benefits changes and do not want an FSA, you need not do anything.
HOW: Online, atyourservice.ucop.edu. Employees without computer access should contact their unit offices or Human Resources, (530) 752-0530 on the Davis campus, or the HR benefits department, (916) 734-8099, on the Sacramento campus.
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