Open Enrollment for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Heath Plan has begun for all eligible staff and will continue through November 30. Eligible staff may join the plan effective January 1, 2014, even if they have not taken advantage of past enrollment opportunities.
For currently participating employees of Subscribing Employers or for Subscribing Individuals, there is nothing to do to continue coverage for 2014. Current participants will be carried over and be billed the 2014 rates. Participants are free to change plans (from High Deductible to Standard PPO, for example, or to switch to the new Bronze HD plan) by notifying the UUA Health Plan office at healthinsurance @ uua.org.
Review all of the plans, including the new Bronze HD plan and the available HSA account. Decide how you want to provide health insurance next year. Take a hard look at how you fund health insurance for your staff and how that translates into affordability for your employees. Make sure your staff have all received their ACA notice (see the Health Plan website for a completed sample). If your congregation participates in the UUA Health Plan, review your personnel files, and make sure you have a record of a health plan election or rejection for every eligible employee (everyone projected to work at least 750 hours.)
Carefully review the 2014 UU Health Plans, and decide whether to keep your current plan, change plans, or enroll for the first time. If you think that your family income may qualify you for a subsidized plan on your state Exchange (or on healthcare.gov), follow up on the Exchange website. You may want to compare the plans on your state Exchange (or healthcare.gov) even if you are not eligible for a subsidy, but keep in mind that your congregation might not contribute to the cost of an Exchange plan. If you decide to change plans, notify healthinsurance @ uua.org by November 30. If you decide to enroll for the first time, follow the instructions on the UUA Health Plan website.
For 2014, we are increasing base rates by 9.3%. The Trustees of the Health Plan carefully considered the claims history of the Plan, consulted closely with Plan actuaries, and set the base rate increase at the lowest possible level consistent with maintaining the long term financial stability of the Plan. All continuing enrollees will also receive a small age adjustment, as we have done in past years. To keep the 2014 rate increase as low as possible, the Trustees voted to raise the Individual Deductible in the Standard PPO from $600 to $800, with the other deductibles increased proportionally. At the same time, we are keeping the total Out-of-Pocket Maximum the same as 2013, so that no one will face a higher out-of-pocket risk in 2014 than they did for 2013.
New for 2014—In the Standard PPO, office visit co-pays will now count toward the out-of-pocket maximum, another way we are trying to ease the potential burden on people with large claims. There will be no benefit changes to the two current High Deductible plans.
For the first time since the Health Plan was launched in 2007, we are adding a new plan. Many people have asked for a plan that offers a lower cost while still providing adequate protection against large claims. For 2014 we are offering the Bronze Level High Deductible, Health Savings Account (HSA)-Qualified plan, which will be priced approximately 40% below the Standard PPO. The Bronze HD plan offers 100% coverage for in-network preventive services, coupled with a $4000 annual deductible for individuals and a maximum individual out-of- pocket set at $6350. The Bronze HD plan is modeled after the most common “bronze” plans sold on the new Insurance Exchanges, where plans are rated as “platinum”, “gold” (which is where our Standard PPO falls), “silver” (our current high deductible plans), and “bronze”.
We have also renegotiated our HSA support with Highmark—congregations can now enroll at no cost, making it possible to contribute HSA funds on behalf of staff who elect a qualified HD plan. Any congregation interested in starting an HSA account for staff can contact the UUA Health Plan Office for details.
The Affordable Care Act, which is now in full effect, has added a new dimension to discussions about rates and benefits, and about how the UUA Health Plan can continue to be a powerful presence in our congregations. With over 900 employees in the Plan, plus hundreds of family members, the UUA Health Plan offers a viable alternative to commercial health insurance. The UUA Health Plan website has detailed information on the impact of the ACA, and we will continue to publish updates as new information becomes available.
The Insurance Exchanges are open to everyone, not just those who do not have insurance. They are also open to people who currently have coverage through their employer. Insurance you buy through an Exchange may qualify for a subsidy, if you meet the family income requirements, and if the UUA plan offered by your employer is not “affordable” under Exchange rules. We do not expect this to be a common experience, but it’s possible, and you may want to consult the enrollment site for your state Exchange to be sure. Remember that if you purchase a plan on an Exchange, your congregation is not required to contribute toward the cost.
We have added the Bronze HD plan to give the UUA plans a full complement of offerings to match the kinds of plans available on the Exchanges. Some of your employees may find the Bronze HD plan to be an attractive alternative to the plan they are in now, especially if the congregation elects to make a contribution to an HSA on their behalf. To be sure that all employees have access to a qualified high deductible plan, including the new Bronze HD plan, we are amending all Employer Subscription Agreements currently on file to permit election of an HD plan. Your congregation may opt out of this change to your Subscription Agreement by notifying the UUA Health Plan in writing by December 31, 2013.
Employer Subscription Agreements for the small number of congregations that elected a waiting period for new employees of “First of the month following 90 days of employment” will be automatically amended to “90 days”, to comply with the new maximum waiting period allowed in the Affordable Care Act. If your congregation had the “90 day” option and wants to stay with a “first of the month” effective date, notify the UUA Health Plan in writing that you wish to switch to “First of the month following 60 days of employment.”
Even though the UUA Health Plan is proud of our efforts to keep premium increases as low as possible since 2007, we also know that numbers do not tell the whole story. Our commitment to justice and equity in the management of the Plan a value the Health Plan Trustees rank first among the principles guiding Plan management—is something we all can be proud of. We offer a transgender surgery benefit. We have implemented the full range of women’s health services in the ACA, including access to free contraception, and we support a woman’s right to choose. We offer full mental health benefit parity. We have a supplementary benefit for children with learning disabilities. And in our Standard PPO we offer one of the best hearing aid benefits in the country.
The position of the UUA has been consistent from the beginning: offering health insurance to employees is a justice, fairness, and equity issue. We want to emphasize that, in large part because we have heard too much talk from analysts over the past several months about how an employer’s approach to ACA implementation is strictly a business decision, with a narrow focus on the financial implications. We all know that’s not the whole story—employee benefits are inextricably tied to employees’ sense of wellbeing, to their trust in their employer, and to their understanding of the social justice contract that underlies working within our denomination.
For more information contact healthinsurance @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Friday, November 1, 2013.
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