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Ready, Set, OPEN! As in Open Enrollment

By Dateline Staff on October 23, 2018 in University

Choose your headline for this open enrollment announcement:

  • Medical premiums will rise no more than $6 per month for most staff and faculty
  • Coverages largely unchanged
  • Health Net Blue & Gold has a new name …
  • … and a new behavioral health provider
  • Eligibility criteria eased for opposite-gender domestic partners
  • Pet insurance now available

Dateline UC Davis is here to tell all six stories, and you’re also invited to attend Human Resources presentations and help desks starting next week on the Davis and Sacramento campuses. See the schedule below.

COSTS — The UC Office of the President continues to pay the full cost of dental and vision plans, and the majority of costs of medical plan premiums. Employees have their choice of the same six medical-behavioral health plans as last year.

In the four most popular plans — Kaiser Permanente, Western Health Advantage and the renamed UC Blue & Gold (formerly Health Net Blue & Gold), all health maintenance organizations; and the UC Health Savings Plan PPO, or preferred provider organization — employee share of cost will rise less than $6 a month. The Core catastrophic plan has no monthly premium but comes with a high deductible.

The sixth plan, UC Care PPO, is the most expensive — and its rates are going up $47, $85, $101 or $139 a month, depending on your pay band. (Across all plans, UC assesses different premiums in four pay bands — the lower your wages, the lower your premium.)

See all the premiums for 2019 and compare them with 2018 rates.

In response to queries about the UC Care increases, UCOP officials noted that the plan offers a generous PPO design, especially with the Tier 1 benefits; and that the flexibility given to patients to seek in network or out-of-network care drives up costs, especially for out-of-network care. In addition, UC Care attracts members who have higher medical needs, driving increased use, according to UCOP.

“UC continues to offer other plan options,” officials said. “We encourage members to consider all of their plan options, to ensure they choose the coverage that is best for their needs and circumstances.”

HEALTH COVERAGES — All six plans remain largely unchanged in terms of coverage, said Guerren Solbach of the Health Care Facilitator Program at UC Davis.

BLUE & GOLD — Health Net Blue & Gold has a new name: UC Blue & Gold. It’s still a Health Net HMO and still offers medical benefits through a network of providers tailored for UC. In 2019, the UC Blue & Gold network will include select CVS Minute Clinic walk-in locations ($20 copay for routine visits and no copay for preventive care).

BLUE & GOLD BEHAVIORAL HEALTH — Managed Health Network, a Health Net company, will replace Optum Behavioral Health as administrator of the UC Blue & Gold plan’s behavioral health benefits, effective Jan. 1. For questions about this transition, and about support available to you if your behavioral health provider is not part of Managed Health Network, call the network at 800-663-9355.

DOMESTIC PARTNERS — The university is relaxing its eligibility rules for opposite-gender domestic partners. Starting Jan. 1, opposite-gender domestic partners will be eligible for health and welfare benefits regardless of whether at least one of the partners is age 62 and eligible for Social Security. This change makes eligibility rules the same for opposite-gender and same-sex domestic partners. Read more about this change and the tax implications of enrolling domestic partners and their children for health and welfare benefits.

Open enrollment banner, cropped, showing woman and dogPET INSURANCE — The university is taking the opportunity during open enrollment to introduce this new benefit for staff, faculty and retirees — even those who are not eligible for medical and other benefits. The enrollment period starts this Thursday (Oct. 25) but does not end with open enrollment — you can enroll any time, say, three months from now when you decide to rescue a dog, or six months from now when you decide to get a cat. The university has arranged for preferred pricing for two plan options — coverage for accidents and illness, or more comprehensive coverage that also includes preventive care and wellness services. There is no network — you can go to any licensed veterinarian. UC does not contribute to the cost of coverage nor deduct the premium from your earnings (you will pay your premiums directly to Nationwide). Read more in this UCnet article.

Other benefits

LEGAL PLAN — Your open enrollment choices include the legal plan. In some years, this is not an option — but it is this year. ARAG Legal Insurance continues as the provider. There are few changes in coverage and no change in rates.

FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS — UC offers two FSAs, one for health expenses, the other for dependent care expenses. This allows you to set aside specified amounts each month, before taxes. These accounts do not renew automatically; if you want to have a Health FSA or DepCare FSA in 2019, you must take action during open enrollment. The Health FSA includes a feature that lets you carry over unused funds to the next plan year. Watch a video about these tax-advantaged accounts.

Health plan presentations

The Health Care Facilitator Program offers information on medical, dental and vision plans. No reservations required; first-come, first-seated. Feel free to bring your spouse or domestic partner. Narrated presentations will be posted on the Health Care Facilitator Program website shortly after the live presentations.


Sacramento campus

  • Monday, Oct. 29 — 2-4 p.m., auditorium, Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Wednesday, Nov. 7 — 8-10 a.m., auditorium, Comprehensive Cancer Center

2 kinds of help desks

• Health Care Facilitator Program: Drop-in, individual counseling with health care facilitators (who specialize in medial, dental and vision plans) and benefits representatives (who can offer assistance on all other benefits). Counseling is on a first-come, first-served basis. Due the size of the meeting rooms, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

Davis campus

Sacramento campus

  • Monday, Oct. 29 — 4-5 p.m., auditorium, Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Wednesday, Nov. 7 — 10 a.m.-noon, Comprehensive Cancer Center

• General help desks with benefits staff: Drop-in sessions for assistance with health plans and other benefits, and eligibility questions. Health care facilitators may or may not be available at these sessions, in which case questions about medical, dental and vision plans may need to be referred.

Davis, on- and off-campus

Sacramento campus

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About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or