UC's Open Enrollment Period Ends November 22

UCSF employees should take note that this year's Open Enrollment, the annual time to change benefits, including medical coverage, runs through Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 5 p.m.

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

"Seventy percent of faculty and staff will see increases of less than $10 per month," said Dwaine Duckett, vice president of human resources at the University of California. This includes virtually all employees earning $48,000 or less.

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.

Faculty and staff 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 and Gold, for example, and Health Net HMO plan is that the Blue and 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.

UC and Employees Share Increases in Costs

The total UC spends on medical plans is projected to go up $90 million for 2012, 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.

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 agreement in some cases.

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

UCSF Medical Center Launches Advertising Campaign

In related news, UCSF Medical Center launched its second open enrollment ad campaign based on the theme “I Chose UCSF,” featuring patients who got care ranging from brain cancer treatment to hip replacement to heart and liver transplants. Three 30-second TV spots will air through Monday, Nov. 14 on 24 local TV stations, network affiliates and cable channels.  The ads, coordinated by medical center Marketing, highlight the expertise of UCSF specialists, who are members of Hill Physicians Medical Group. In addition to the TV ads, online ads will run on sites such as SFGate.

Open enrollment, typically held in the fall, is a period when employees can make selections or changes to health insurance plans and medical groups offered by employers. These decisions can affect whether patients have easy access to the services at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit www.accessucsf.org. To view the three ads airing this fall, visit YouTube:

Reassessing Retirement

While Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to make changes to your health and welfare benefits, it’s also a good time to assess your retirement savings benefits as well.

Are you saving enough for retirement? Are you happy with the way your retirement savings are invested? You can view your retirement savings accounts and make changes to your investment funds at netbenefits.com.

The Maximum Annual Contribution for the 403(b) and 457(b) plans for 2012 will increase to $17,000 each. For employees who are age 50 as of Dec. 31, 2012, the limit will be $22,500. In addition, some employees may be eligible to make additional contributions under the lifetime catch-up provisions of the plans.

If you’re not confident about making changes, you can learn more about investing for retirement and UC’s Retirement Savings Program on the UC Focus on Your Future website. Or take advantage of the financial education classes UC offers in person at your location and as webinars--at no cost to you.

The website and classes are targeted to your needs, whether you’re just starting to invest or getting ready to retire. For more information, visit ucfocusonyourfuture.com.