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UC medical premiums to rise slightly in 2012

UC employees will see modest increases in medical plan costs for 2012, and most will continue to contribute a smaller portion of the full cost than the national average.

Medical plan rates for 2012 are posted on At Your Service.

“Seventy percent of employees will see increases of less than $10 per month,” said Dwaine Duckett, vice president of human resources. This includes virtually all employees earning $48,000 or less.

Those who are enrolled in the Anthem Blue Cross PPO will have lower premiums. The decrease is the result of several factors including recent plan experience — how many and which type of services members used during the year — which was more favorable than expected.

And again this year, UC is offering several value plans that provide the same comprehensive health care coverage as its Choice plans but at lower rates. The only difference between Health Net Blue & Gold, for example, and Health Net HMO plan is that the Blue & Gold plan has only the most reasonably priced health care providers.

“We created the Health Net Blue and Gold plan for UC employees who are flexible and willing to more actively manage their health care costs. We’re pleased to see that it is helping to lower rate increases while still offering employees high quality care,” Duckett said.

The total UC spend on medical plans is projected to go up by $90 million this year, he said.

Both UC and employees will share the cost of that increase, with UC contributing, on average, 87 percent of the cost of premiums.

UC’s contribution to medical premiums is significantly higher than the national average for employer contributions. In its annual survey of employer-sponsored health benefits, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that employers pay roughly 82 percent of premiums for employees with no dependents and 72 percent for family coverage.

Faculty and staff also generally pay less than the national average for office visits and prescriptions.

In addition, UC mitigates the cost impact for lower paid workers by having those with higher salaries offset premiums for those with lower salaries through its pay-banding methodology.

“In these difficult economic times, employees who are not already enrolled in our lower-cost value plans may want to consider doing so during Open Enrollment,” Duckett said.

Open Enrollment begins Monday, Oct. 31, at 8 am and runs through Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 5 pm.

Aside from changes in medical premiums, there are also changes in 2012 to the Vision Service Plan, including an enhanced contact lens benefit. UC will move from VSP’s Signature Network to the Choice Network. About 98 percent of California providers are in the Choice Network.

The University will see significant savings as a result of the change in networks, and is passing part of that savings on to employees in the form of an improved contact lens benefit.

VSP has also added Costco as an affiliated provider, which means Costco will now be able to submit members’ claims for eye exams and eyewear directly to VSP.

UC will continue to offer the Staywell wellness benefit to eligible employees enrolled in all medical plans except Kaiser, which has its own wellness benefit. Participation for the Staywell benefit is governed by collective bargaining agreements in some cases.

Complete information about 2012 health and welfare benefits is available on the At Your Service website.

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