UC Open Enrollment Period for 2013 Set to Begin

Important Changes For Health Net Plan Affecting Employees in San Francisco

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The University of California’s Open Enrollment period begins next week, with some important changes coming to Health Net coverage affecting employees in San Francisco.

Even if you’re satisfied with your UC benefits, the Open Enrollment period is a good time to review your plan, read about changes for the following year, and update basic information like your address on record or your beneficiaries’ addresses. The 2012 Open Enrollment period begins on Monday, Oct. 29 at 8 a.m., and runs through Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 5 p.m.

Although the cost of medical premiums continues to rise, there’s 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 the eight medical plans — Health Net HMO or Anthem Blue Cross PPO — have larger increases. View 2013 plan rates here.

"Recognizing 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 at UC. "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."

How UC's Benefits Stack Up

As part of the annual process for renewing its contracts with health plans, UC's Benefits Program and Strategy unit researches how UC compares nationally and with its comparator institutions, and in the majority of categories, UC compares favorably.

Highlights of key findings:

  • UC has the widest plan choice, with eight plans covering all major types from Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) to Preferred Provider (PPO) plans. Most of UC's comparator institutions offer four or fewer plans. Interestingly, 77 percent of UC employees choose to enroll in HMO plans.
  • UC pays more of the premiums for family members than other employers.
  • UC employees covering themselves pay lower premiums for HMO plans than the national average and those with families pay among the lowest across comparators.
  • Even with the increase in HMO copayments for 2013, UC faculty and staff pay lower copayments for specialty visits and prescription drugs than the national average.
  • UC continues to provide free dental and vision plans to our employees and their dependents.

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, outpatient surgery and brand name and non-formulary prescription drugs.

"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."

Plan Changes Affecting Many UCSF Employees

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.

In San Francisco, Health Net also has created a new accountable care arrangement (ACA) in collaboration with Hill Physicians Medical Group, UCSF Medical Center, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. And beginning Jan. 1, Brown & Toland and California Pacific Medical Center will no longer be part of the Health Net Blue & Gold network. Click here for more information about this change.

Other key 2013 benefit changes:

  • Many women's preventive services will be available at no charge.
  • 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.

Open Enrollment Resources

Read more at UCSF Open Enrollment Website and the UCOP Open Enrollment Website. Also visit UCSF helps desks set up at various campuses during the Open Enrollment period. Download the help desk schedule here. [PDF]

To make benefits changes beginning Monday, Oct. 29 at 8 a.m., log into http://atyourservice.ucop.edu and click on the Open Enrollment box.

This Open Enrollment does not apply to residents and clinical fellows. Postdoctoral scholars should visit the Garnett-Powers & Associates website for information on Open Enrollment.

Editor's note: This story was adapted from a story by Anne Wolf at the UC Office of the President.