Oct. 24, 2007 — At the Oct. 4 meeting of the U.Va. Board of Visitors, Vice President for Human Resources Susan Carkeek presented the health insurance plan for 2008. “My first report to the board is good news,” Carkeek told members of the Finance Committee. Benefits are being expanded, while premiums are rising only modestly for most — and are, in fact, decreasing for some.
Low-Premium Plan: Decreased Premiums, More Coverage
The low-premium plan will be enhanced with the addition of 100 percent coverage of all immunization costs and a new family out-ofpocket maximum for co-insurance — $7,000 for in-network expenses and $14,000 for outof- network. “What this means is potentially lower total out-of-pocket costs per family,” said Anne Broccoli, interim director of benefits at University Human Resources.
Preventative services — including wellbaby visits, Pap smears, mammograms and other diagnostic tests — now will be covered at 100 percent on the plan, removing the current maximum of $150. Prescription smoking cessation drugs will also be added as a covered benefit. And for the first time, genetic testing will be covered, as long as it meets specific criteria.
Monthly premiums will decrease at all levels of the low-premium plan, the largest decrease being on the family plan.
High-Premium Plan: Expanded Coverage, Very Slight Increases
Just as in the low-premium plan, preventative services will be covered at 100 percent, as well as genetic testing and prescription smoking cessation drugs, but there will be a modest increase in premiums for the high-premium plan in 2008.
The employee-only plan premium will rise just $1, from $37 per month to $38. “It’s important when looking at increases — even small ones — to remember how much health care truly costs,” Carkeek said. “Right now, U.Va.’s employer contribution to an employee’s health care is $512 a month on average, or more than $6,000 a year. That’s about 80 percent of the total cost.”
Responding to Rising Pharmacy Costs
With drug costs higher in 2006 than expected (the University experienced an 18.45 percent increase, compared to national trends of 13.8 percent), controlling pharmacy costs is a top priority. Co-payments for generic drugs will remain unchanged, but those for brand-name medications (tiers two and three) will increase.
A new fourth tier, covering the most expensive “specialty medications,” will be added, with higher co-payments. Examples of specialty medications include most injectables and treatments for chronic conditions like HIV, multiple sclerosis and cancer. “These drugs typically cost an average of $1,450 each month, so this is still a significant savings for our employees,” Broccoli said.
Flexible Spending Debit Cards
New this year is a pre-paid debit card for the flexible spending account program. “I am thrilled to offer this level of convenience to U.Va. employees,” said Carkeek. “The debit card makes it much easier to take advantage of such a valuable pre-tax option.”
The card is a special-purpose, pre-paid MasterCard used to pay for qualified expenses on health and/or dependent care accounts. This eliminates an employee from having to pay the service provider and then file a claim for reimbursement. It works like a debit card with the value of the account contribution stored on it; when used, the amount is deducted from the account.
The amount made available on the card is deducted from an employee’s gross salary before payroll taxes are applied, thus reducing the employee’s tax liability. Employees select how much they contribute to the plan.
For the health care flexible spending, the full amount of the annual election will be available on the card immediately. For dependent care, the card is funded each pay period, so the employee can only “spend” the amount on the card.
More Options for Faculty Life Insurance
In direct response to a benchmark survey of faculty benefits, the faculty life insurance program has developed new offerings. “Life insurance was an area where faculty benefits at U.Va. fell short of peers’,” said Broccoli. “We are pleased to now offer a ‘multiple of salary option,’ with some great additions if you join during this enrollment period."
The current plan is a “flat-dollar structure.” Regardless of a faculty member's salary, in the current plan, the cap is $200,000. Under The Standard’s new plan, faculty can elect up to four times their current salary, not to exceed $1 million.
Dependent coverage is also available with the new option. The new plan is “opt-in” only. Faculty members who do not choose to enroll either remain uninsured or in the flat-dollar-amount plan.
Additional information will be e-mailed to faculty.
All of U.Va.’s health plan changes go into effect Jan. 1. There will be an open enrollment period from Nov. 5 through Nov. 26, and an employee resource fair is scheduled for Nov. 15, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom. The day’s events include benefits seminars, information sessions, time for open enrollment and approximately 45 exhibitors.
For benefits-related questions, contact UHR Benefits at 924-4392. For questions related to the fair, call Tonia Duncan-Rivers at 924-4320 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Employee||2007 Low Premium Program||2008 Low Premium Program||2007 High Premium Program||2008 High Premium Program||2008 Monthly Employer Contribution|
|Emp. + child||$52||$47||$130||$134||$546|
|Emp. + spouse||$60||$54||$151||$156||$548|
|30-day retail||$9 (unchanged)||$22||$44|
|90-day mail order||$21 (unchanged)||$52||$103|
|30-day specialty medications||$25||$50||$75|