“Premium holiday” graces faculty and staff’s health insurance costs

By on November 11, 2016
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By Kyeland Jackson —

Partially due to premiums negotiations, faculty and staff who are part of U of L’s health plan will not pay this month.

Acting President Neville Pinto announced the savings via email last week.

“Each person who currently participates in the program will receive a ‘premium holiday’ in November. In other words, you will not pay your share of the health insurance coverage for the month,” Pinto said in the email. “The university will continue to pay its share of the premium. This will be reflected on your November paycheck.”

University employees were awarded thanks to employee health management, the success of the Get Healthy Now program and health premium negotiations by U of L’s insurance partner and health care provider. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the university’s health insurance provider, signed on with U of L in 2014.

“Anthem was awarded the university’s medical plan provider contract in 2014 through a competitive bid process,” University Spokesperson John Karman said. “Aon, the university’s benefits administrator, worked with the VP of HR on the contract negotiation. The negotiated rates are applicable to all employees, faculty and staff, who participate in the plan.”

Vice President of Aon Risk Solutions Curt Dame is U of L’s Aon contact. He estimates the premium holiday will save faculty and staff upwards of $1.1 million. “It should be recognized that the university contributes in excess of 80 percent of the cost of the health plan,” Dame said.

Factors include 10 – 12 percent discounts by Anthem, Know Your Rx Coalition, which offers cheap alternatives to prescription drugs, and the Get Healthy Now program. GHN is an incentive-based program, offering $40 off monthly health premiums for participation according to its website. Launched in 2005, GHN offers motivational programs, use of fitness equipment, coaching, integrated clinical care and more, boasting over 6500 employees and incentivizing thousands on campus.

Savings come at an opportune time for university employees. Three weeks ago, President Barack Obama revealed healthcare premiums were estimated to increase by up to 25 percent next year. Increases apply to health insurers in the public marketplace, which includes Anthem, Humana Health Plan and CareSource Kentucky in Jefferson County. Premium costs depend on age and marital status, ranging from an estimated $203.66 to at least $552.73 for singles according to Healthcare.gov. If Jefferson County health premium costs top national estimates, prices could increase by up to $138 for some.

Regardless of impending cost increases, Dame said university employees’ health choices outweigh the impact of federal cost trends.

“Medical inflation is a contributing factor to the trend in claim costs each year. Medical inflation is impacted by the ability of hospitals and physicians to work in collaboration with government and insurance carriers and TPA’s to continue to reform the payment models to align with quality measures which should help to control costs,” Dame said.

“The ability of the University and its health plan members to live healthier lives will have a greater impact on controlling costs than any other factor.”

Open enrollment for U of L’s 2017 health insurance ended Oct. 28 and employee premium payments resume in December.

About Kyeland Jackson

Editor-in-Chief at The Louisville Cardinal.

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