Take time for your annual benefits checkup
It comes like clockwork every year: UC’s annual Open Enrollment period. This year, Open Enrollment runs from 8 a.m., Oct. 29 to 5 p.m., Nov. 20.
Even if you’re satisfied with your UC benefits, it’s a good idea to use the Open Enrollment period to review your benefits, plan changes for next year and basic information like your address on record or your beneficiaries’ addresses.
Consider it your annual benefits check up.
Although the cost of medical premiums continues to rise, there is good news for the majority of UC employees. About 80 percent of faculty and staff across all pay bands and coverage levels will see increases of a few cents to less than $8 per month. Only two out of our eight medical plans have larger increases.
“Recognizing that health costs rise each year, we continue to work hard to balance keeping costs down with providing the highest level of benefits to all of our employees and retirees,” said Michael Baptista, executive director of Benefits Policies and Strategy. “As we do every year, we looked at our plans in relation to the market and to the university’s budget. We secured the best rates based on the large array of plan offerings.”
Baptista suggested employees in the Health Net HMO or Anthem Blue Cross PPO consider either Health Net Blue & Gold or the Anthem Lumenos PPO with HRA if they want to reduce their monthly premiums. Both have benefits similar to the Health Net HMO and Anthem Blue Cross PPO at significantly lower premiums.
While premiums continue to rise for both the university and employees, the rate of those increases has steadily declined, Baptista said. “Four years ago, our costs increased 12 percent. Last year we reduced the increase to 8 percent, and this year we’re down to 4 percent.”
Many factors contributed to the small increases to medical premiums, including the first increase in copayments since 2006. Employees enrolled in UC’s HMO plans and Anthem Blue Cross PLUS will see increases in copayments for some services, including doctor visits, emergency room visits, outpatient surgery and brand name and non-formulary prescription drugs.
The increases range from $5 for doctor visits to about $100 for outpatient surgery.
“We know that our employees and retirees have some of the lowest copayments among our comparators,” Baptista said. “By raising doctor visit copayments by $5, for example, we were able to save a significant amount on premiums, which benefits all employees and retirees as well as the university.”
Since UC’s last copayment increase in 2006, the average full cost of a doctor visit has increased about $50. “We’re asking employees and retirees to pay just $5 of that cost increase,” Baptista said.
At the same time, the copayment for generic drugs remains $5 for the HMO plans and $10 for Anthem Blue Cross PLUS. And, many preventive services are now available without a copayment. In 2013, UC’s plans will begin offering many women’s preventive services at no charge.
Other plan changes
Among the other changes in benefits for 2013 are:
- A reduction to $2,500 in the maximum contribution to the Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA), a change mandated under health care reform. The Dependent Care FSA maximum contribution remains $5,000. Employees who wish to participate in either FSA plan must enroll annually during Open Enrollment.
- The ARAG Legal Plan is open for enrollment this year.
- Enhanced elder care benefits through SelectPlus, formerly Sittercity.
- The opportunity to earn the StayWell program incentive award by attending campus-based wellness programs.
Find complete information about these plan changes on the Open Enrollment website.