October 03, 2016

Traditional health plan options are available for 2017

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Traditional insruanceEligible employees of UAB, UAB Hospital, and UAB Hospital Management LLC will have the option to choose or decline health care coverage during the annual open enrollment Oct. 28-Nov. 14. In addition to a new consumer-driven health plan, the traditional health plans from Viva Health and Blue Cross/Blue Shield will be continue to be available for 2017.

Those already familiar with UAB’s existing traditional health plans will note there are no plan design changes for 2017. Nonetheless, you must participate in open enrollment if you want to secure or retain medical insurance through UAB.

What are the traditional plan choices?

Traditional plans are characterized by lower out-of-pocket costs — copays and deductibles — for covered services when compared to the consumer-driven health care plan and do not include a high annual deductible that must be met before insurance begins paying.

Viva Health offers two traditional plans for employees: Viva UAB and Viva Access.

Viva UAB offers the least expensive traditional plan monthly premium for employees. The negotiated rates are for using providers within the UAB health care network. The maximum out-of-pocket expenses for medical and pharmacy services is $5,000 for single coverage and $10,000 for family coverage.

Information about benefit options are being provided during the next several weeks to better enable you to make the best choices for your household. 

Previous: 5 things to know about open enrollment 
Things to know about vision and dental plans 
New consumer-driven health plan and HSAs
Next: Plan rates and ways to contain health care costs

Viva Access enables subscribers to go outside the UAB network to other participating providers as needed or desired with slightly higher co-pays for out-of-network services, including hospitalization. Out-of-pocket expenses are lower when using providers in the UAB network.  The maximum out-of-pocket expenses for medical and pharmacy services is $6,000 for single coverage and $13,200 for family coverage.

Both Viva plans plan provide coverage for one annual eye exam and a student and sabbatical rider for out-of-network services up to $1,500 per year.

Blue Cross/ Blue Shield has an established nationwide preferred provider organization (PPO) network that offers more latitude in selecting physicians and facilities. This plan does require a higher co-payment for services compared to the other traditional plan options. The maximum out-of-pocket expenses for medical and pharmacy services is $6,000 for single coverage and $13,200 for family coverage.

All plans cover preventive care at 100 percent and premiums are tax-sheltered. A chart outlining the plan details and networks, along with several common scenarios, is available in the UAB for Me portal.

Premium rates for all plans will be made available next week.

Health care tier changes announced for 2018

Nationwide, the cost of providing and securing health care is rising, and UAB is working to balance the impact of these costs on our faculty and staff and the organization. 

“Our goal continues to be providing the coverage employees and their families need at a price both individuals and the institution can afford, said Chief Human Resources Officer Alesia Jones. “During this budget year, the UAB Benefits Committee worked diligently to minimize any additional cost passed along to you for your benefits, and negotiated savings in the pharmacy benefit will help offset some costs to UAB. We heard from employees in our health care survey last year that there was a desire to update our dependent tier structure for UAB health care plans.”

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The benefits committee spent a great deal of time reviewing tier level options. Other than single coverage, UAB plans offer two tiers: employee plus up to 2 and family. The review indicated that UAB’s employee plus up to 2 tier is no longer a national or local best practice, and UAB is in a small minority continuing to offer this tier level. Analysis of an employee plus spouse tier revealed that the premium levels for the employee plus spouse tier would be very similar to the family tier due to the higher cost to cover adults versus children.   

So, in 2018, the employee plus up to 2 tier will become “employee plus children,” regardless of the number of children covered. Spousal coverage will only be provided under the “family” tier.  This is likely to result in a higher premium for those covering both a spouse and a child on the employee plus up to 2 tier as they will move to the family tier. These changes will realign UAB plans with national best practices, Jones said.