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Health plan enrollment next month

By Dave Jones on October 6, 2006 in University

Open enrollment packets for 2007 will be out by the end of October, and employees will see few changes beyond higher premiums for health insurance.

In a directive to employees late last week, UC officials explained that medical plan costs continue to rise nationwide — and that the university also will be paying more in 2007. "In fact, UC will pay $673 million to fund employee health care in 2007 — $50 million more than in 2006," the directive states.

The directive continues: "As in the past, UC will continue to pay the overwhelming majority of employee health insurance costs, and monthly premiums will continue to be based on pay levels so that lower-paid employees pay lower monthly premiums and continue to have affordable access to quality health insurance."

This year's open enrollment is set to run from Nov. 1 to 21, a shorter period than previous years. Human Resources officials said all of UC Davis' health, dental and vision plan options are the same as last year, with no changes in benefits, co-payments or access, so employees are not likely to need a full month for open enrollment. Most employees will be able to take care of open enrollment via computer.

At this time, the higher premiums apply only to nonrepresented employees and those represented employees whose unions have come to contract terms with the university. Other unions are still negotiating.

Besides higher premiums, employees will see a change in the voluntary Health Care Reimbursement Plan. With this option, an employee estimates how much he or she will spend on health care in 2007, and have that money deducted from his or her paycheck on a pretax basis, and deposited to an individual health care account.

New debit cards

Starting Jan. 1, participants will use debit cards to pay out-of-pocket costs, say, for co-payments and prescriptions. Under the old system, people paid cash up-front and then filed for reimbursement from their health care accounts.

One other change this year involves the four pay levels on which premiums are based. The system stays in place, but the bands have been adjusted upward to reflect the increased cost of living.

Here are the new pay bands and the range of premium increases within each band:

  • $43,000 or less (was $40,000 or less) — 21 percent for Blue Cross PPO (employee only) to 79 percent for Health Net (employee and adult).
  • $43,000 to $86,000 (was $40,001 to $80,000) — 28 percent for Blue Cross PPO (employee and adult) to 70 percent for Health Net (employee only, and employee and children).
  • $86,001 to $129,000 (was $80,001 to $120,000) — 14 percent for Kaiser and Western Health Advantage (employee and adult) to 54 percent for Health Net (employee only, and employee and children).
  • Greater than $129,000 (was $120,000) — 10 percent for Kaiser and Western Health Advantage (for employee and adult) to 38 percent for Health Net (employee only, and employee and children).

University pays most

The UC directive gives an example of how premium costs are split between employees and the university. Within Pay Band 1 ($43,000 or less), an employee pays $20.64 monthly for individual coverage under Health Net, and the university pays $344.70, for a total of $365.34. Within Pay Band 4 (greater than $129,000), an employee pays $96.14 for individual coverage under Health Net, and the university pays $269.20, for a total of $365.34.

UC is continuing to pay the full cost of dental and vision coverage.

Though open enrollment does not start until Nov. 1, officials say now is a good time to start planning

More information, including all rates, is available online: http://atyourservice.ucop.edu

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556, dljones@ucdavis.edu

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