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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Opt Out Information


 The explanation from Donald Smith, CHRO and Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits for ending the Opt Out option is that it will increase the size of the employee pool, which will theoretically decrease the health care costs for all employees. Employees currently cover 17% of the total health care costs of university employees. Ending the Opt-Out option will spread that 17% over a greater number of people. A counterpoint to this position is that it is also possible that some of those opt outs brought back into the pool will bring high health care costs increasing total health care costs.
Currently there are 473 (of a total of ~4,500) employees who will be impacted by taking away the Opt Out option. Some hard to define costs associated with this decision are: the number of employees who will leave the university as a result, the costs of replacing those employees, the possible additional costs to the plan, and more importantly the impact of another reduction in benefits or increase in cost of benefits to the morale of our employees. The potential benefit is decreasing the overall cost each employee pays.
What are your thoughts on the administration’s explanation and position on this?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

We could offer informed views on this if we had some hard data to consider. Otherwise, our comments are just opinions. Some of us may think adding the opt-out people will lower costs, but others may believe that adding more people will result in higher costs because those new people will have health costs as well. Seems the Univ could look into this a bit more to see just how adding the current opt-outs might impact the costs, rates etc. Are the current-opt outs generally younger or older? Could the U ask for info on the opt-outs that would help them tease out the likely impacts?

Anonymous said...

Commenting on 'surcharge to spouses'. I feel this is absolutely unfair, i should be surcharged because my spouse can not find permanent work to get healthcare. Yet, I need to make sure his healthcare can be covered.

Anonymous said...

I find it a little curious why this is coming out so late. A decision is going to be made, if it has not already, in less than 3 weeks. This has been in discussion for almost two months. It feels like this effort is only be made so that it can be said "We asked".

How many "children" between 21 - 26 have recently come on the insurance through their parents? Have we considered a "adult child" surcharge? This makes more sense to me than the opt-out.

Forest Kvasnikoff said...

I want clarification on Anonymous' comment "i should be surcharged because my spouse can not find permanent work to get healthcare." They way I read the change that the JHCC is proposing is that if your spouse does NOT have a job or has a job that does NOT provide insurance and you want them on your plan, there is no surcharge. However, if you spouse does have a job AND does have an insurance plan, than your spouse should utilize that plan.

I think I see the basic logic behind that move. But, I am not sure I completely understood the motion correctly. Clarification would be nice.

Forest Kvasnikoff said...

I want clarification on Anonymous' comment "i should be surcharged because my spouse can not find permanent work to get healthcare." They way I read the change that the JHCC is proposing is that if your spouse does NOT have a job or has a job that does NOT provide insurance and you want them on your plan, there is no surcharge. However, if you spouse does have a job AND does have an insurance plan, than your spouse should utilize that plan.

I think I see the basic logic behind that move. But, I am not sure I completely understood the motion correctly. Clarification would be nice.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the Opt Out issue,I already have health care insurance that is more affordable and provides better coverage. I should not be forced to participate in a UAF program that I do not want or need. It unfairly reduces my UAF income and makes the job less desirable. Why should I be forced to subsidize others health care when I already have coverage?

Anonymous said...

Opt Out: I already have health care insurance. I only want dental. I don't need UAF health insurance. I do not want UAF health insurance and should be allowed to Opt Out. If you want to help, provide separate dental insurance.

Anonymous said...

I'm frustrated that the university would consider forcing me to take a pay cut to subsidize the health costs of other employees by removing my right to opt out of their expensive plan when I have access to more affordable, and more extensive coverage elsewhere. Further, it seems like the notion is short-sighted; there will be claims that come from all those added employees that could very well outweigh the benefit of the contributions gained. If the plan made fiscal sense I might feel resigned to it, but as it is I feel short-changed and angry.

Anonymous said...

I am really appalled that UA is considering requiring everyone to be on the university's health care plan, especially if they previously elected to opt-out. Now I would not be opposed to requiring those who opt out to provide proof of other insurance (other than writing it down on a piece of paper), but I believe we should have the choice to either opt-in or out accordingly.

Another thing that really bothers me is UA hasn't considered separate charges for those who are single and have no dependents vs. those who have dependents. I could see a charge for employee, spouse and one dependent and then another charge for greater than two dependents and so forth. There are a lot of employees on the plan that have several dependents yet pay the same employee charge as others without dependents. How fair and just is it? It's not! There should be different charges based on the number of dependents. At some point the gravy train must come to an end where health care is concerned and stop penalizing everyone. If I have more than one dependent child besides my spouse, I shouldn't mind paying for extra.

Anonymous said...

There is something I don't understand. I am a benefit eligible employee which means my department pays well over 50% of my salary toward staff benefits - does this staff benefit charge not cover at least some of the health care that the Administration pays?; according to what Donald and Erika say is about 83% if the employee's pay 17%? Obviously it must not since the health care is so poor now without us who have opted out? I'm confused my accounting would tell me if my portion of that 83% was still being contributed by the administration and I'm not using any of it; shouldn't there really be extra in the pot with allowing opt out? If my staff benefits do include health care and the administration isn't contributing what they say 'per benefit-eligible' employee then isn't my department due a refund of the staff benefit charge they paid for me? Where's the accounting; please tell us, does the staff benefit charge NOT include health care? And if it doesn't then what does the 50% of my salary really cover?Rather than forcing the employee's back in to add to the mere 17%; can't we instead force the administration to pay my 83% since I am health care eligible?

Well you can be sure if I am forced back in to the health care plan. I will definitely use every cent of my wellness benefits, vision and dental which do not count toward my exorbitant deductible and certainly I won't be the only one to figure that out; so really are you going to be helping your pool?

Anonymous said...

I do not think it is fair for it to be required to pay for a spouse's health insurance if they do not want it. It just doesn't make sense to me. How does that keep my health costs down? I am sure it will increase my premium. He already has coverage, being Alaska Native and does not want any more. I don't make that much as it is and feel this would be an extra jab at my take home pay. I feel we all should be able to opt out if we do not want or can not afford to cover others in our family.
Unfair.

Anonymous said...

People that have opted out were allowed to do it as they had other insurance coverage. Now we are going to bring them in to "hopefully" reduce costs to the rest of the pool. As I understand the way insurance works, the University policy would now be their primary health care policy -- no matter what other insurance the employee may have. So that would mean that the first costs (80%) would be born by the University, were currently they are bearing no costs. How is this going to save money?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the opportunity to give feedback on the proposals before they become a done deal.
Looking for quick relief solutions may very well cause much heavier costs in the long term, and will certainly cause a host of other issues. Removing people’s right of choice so we can get more money out of employee’s household budgets is the first step down a very bad path – both proposals of removing the opt-out, or creating a spousal surcharge (especially when they are already paying their portion of the benefit anyway) cost the employee’s family more money. Neither of these options actually brings any new money into the pot, except to slide a larger percentage of the expense of healthcare off of UA and onto the employee’s home. I believe more can be done through the proactive, albeit longer-term and possibly slower, methods proposed than by these. And if adding graduate students with an expected lower health care draw due to demographics would not help, how would losing the opt-out really help?

Also to be considered – all expenses are going up everywhere; is this really the best place for UA to start looking for cost savings? Are there other areas where they might be waste or potential savings to be had? Some out of the box thinking around these might be time better spent.

I do applaud the Health Care group for working to look for out of the box solutions – OOTB means bad as well as good. And there are some stellar recommendations for proactive, forward-thinking solutions in the report. It is just troubling that these 2 bad suggestions (canceling opt-out, spousal surcharge) should have made it as far as being formed as resolutions.

Emily Youcha said...

I oppose the getting rid of the opt out option. The UAF health care is no longer a benefit to me. I don't like the existing choices UAF is offering so I choose to get insurance elsewhere (through my spouse's plan).

Anonymous said...

Forcing 470 employees out of 4500 to take the health care will not make a difference

Anonymous said...

Eliminating the opt out option is a bad idea. It casts the University in the role of "the company store" offering an inferior product at a higher price, and then requiring their employees to buy it. It will hurt recruitment and retention, and require the university to raise salaries to hire the workers they need, eliminating any "savings". Supervisors have no control over the health care costs, but they do have some control over raises and compensation. I anticipate many employees will demand higher compensation to meet the rising health care costs. The University will not end up with more money in their account from this move, and it will hurt worker morale (yet again).

Anonymous said...

Forcing an inferior health plan down the throats of employees is just plain wrong. We made the conscious decision to drop my wife’s university plan last year because you raised rates, provided a narrow suite of options, and substantially increased deductible amounts. While the insurance options through my employer were slightly more expensive, they provided greater options, much lower deductibles, and equal to superior coverage. I understand the benefits of increasing the number of people in the insurance pool; however, what you are proposing would provide minimal net benefits overall and have a high social and economic impact on staff and their families. If you really wanted to make a positive change, you would be expending considerable efforts to join university employees and other state workers into a mutual health insurance pool.

Anonymous said...

DO NOT ELIMINATE THE OPT-OUT PROGRAM.

From dictionary.reference.com:

"Benefit: Something that is advantageous or good."

"Revenue: The income of a government from taxation, appropriated to the payment of public expenses."

The University is effectively proposing to use your supposed BENEFIT as a form of REVENUE. This is UNACCEPTABLE. Employees that have made life decisions to acquire benefits through other avenues should not be penalized by effectively subsidizing co-workers health coverage.

For each UA employee enrolled in health care coverage, UA receives a substantial amount of funding from the State of Alaska to fund the program as a whole. The current pricing structure along with the deductible model of the programs available to the employee, all but guarantee that the premiums paid will never be recouped for employees that have benefits elsewhere.

FORCING employees to pay into this program when they have alternatives elsewhere is nothing more than an act of RAISING REVENUE FOR THE UNIVERSITY. In fact, FORCING employees to pay into the program exacerbates the problem further in that if they do end up having large claims, it puts the program even further in the red.

EMPLOYEES CURRENTLY OPTED-OUT SHOULD BE GRANDFATHERED IN AS AN ABSOLUTE MINIMUM SHOULD THIS PROGRAM BE CHANGED.

The University has also proposed to allow spouses who both work for the University to be allowed to opt-out of double coverage if this is reinstated. THIS IS DISCRIMINATORY if the opt-out program is eliminated for some employees but not others.

I STRONGLY OPPOSE THIS PROPOSAL BY THE UNIVERSITY.

I STRONGLY SUPPORT KEEPING THE OPT-OUT PROGRAM.

Anonymous said...

I am already covered through my spouse's health insurance provided by the State of Alaska via his employment. My present coverage costs less than a UA health coverage would cost me; my present health coverage has greater coverage for less total costs. Why should I be required to have my primary health insurance be changed to the UA system, my present health insurance would default to secondary. I will be paying more out of pocket for less coverage; the State of Alaska is already contributing to my current health coverage...thus I will be doubly covered by the same system who will be doubly paying for me. And this is being made mandatory??!!

Anonymous said...

My husband has had two stokes following an automobile accident. We choose to be covered by his employer's insurance. It is best for us and the University of Alaska that we opt out. Those of us who opt out do so for a reason. It would be more expensive for UA to cover my family's health care than would be saved by me opting back in. Please do not take this option away from me. It will only place a financial burden on us and the University.

Anonymous said...

From the information I have, I am against both the Opt-Out and Spousal Surcharge. The Opt-Out doesn't pertain to my situation because UA's insurance is better than my spouse's, but I believe those that have better coverage elsewhere shouldn't have to be forced to take a large pay-cut to pay for unneeded extra insurance. If you HAVE to charge them for something, why not let them Opt-Out, but charge an Opt-Out fee.
As for the Spousal Surcharge, as I mentioned, UA's insurance is cheaper and more extensive than my spouse's insurance. Before I started working at the University, we went without insurance because our only option was so expensive and not worth it. So now that we both have insurance, we might have to be charged extra for using UA's plan. You want more people in the plan to make it cheaper by not letting them Opt-Out, but then you want to punish those adding spouses for using the insurance. So do you want more people on the plan or fewer? It seems contradictory. Employees need something in the plan to be happy with.

Anonymous said...

That 17% increase of employees to the insurance pool with the elimination of the opt out option will decrease with the surcharge to spouses. We use that option now but will not with the surcharge.

Anonymous said...

I CURRENTLY PAY $491 A MONTH FOR MY UA HEALTH INSURANCE.

I cannot afford this and can't wait to opt-out in April 2013!!

*PLEASE DO NOT TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHT TO OPT-OUT OF UA HEALTH COVERAGE.