The University of Central Missouri administration updated the employee health care plan at the beginning of September. Employees now have the opportunity to choose between three options.
The new addition is the Exclusive Provider Organization plan, and UCM President Chuck Ambrose described it as “groundbreaking in higher education” in a memo sent out to employees Tuesday, Sept. 5.
The EPO is designed to provide high level benefits while still limiting cost increases for employees and the university.The EPO guarantees premiums for the next three years.
“UCM is pleased to have different options for health care coverage for 2018, and we are grateful for everyone who is committed to making a difference in this important area,” Ambrose said in the memo.
He said the university started developing this new plan with Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Kansas City two years ago, long before UCM was taking on state budget cut reductions.
“We realized that as an institution we have choices. We can stay where we are and make no changes in our health insurance coverage, which will result in employees paying more for insurance, or we can seek new opportunities to make our medical insurance program more financially stable, which ultimately benefits employees,” Ambrose said in the memo.
The health care updates were a hot topic at the Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday, Sept. 13. Many faculty senators and even a voice from the gallery expressed opinions on the updates and their concern on the lack of the faculty involvement.
Mike Bersin, a music professor at UCM, initiated a motion for the Faculty Senate Salary and Fringe Benefits committee to bring a motion to express their concern about the faculty involvement in the administration’s decision about the health care updates.
This motion was seconded and senators voted in favor of it.
Dan Crews, a history professor, said he didn’t understand why the faculty hadn’t been aware of the updates sooner.
“The charter says we should be involved. They don’t have to listen to us, but the charter says we should be involved. The president’s memo said that this had been in discussion for two or three years, so I just don’t understand,” Crews said.
Steve Price, an associate professor in the communication department and the Faculty Senate vice president, spoke on the issue since Ambrose was absent and said the thought process behind the decision is that the previous plans are still in place and the EPO is just an additional option for faculty.
“I’m not speaking for President Ambrose. The PPO option is still in place. The prices are what’s changing slightly, but from his perspective, he’s simply adding an additional option in addition to the PPO,” Price said. “He’s also not seeing this as a blowup change to our health care benefits, whether it is or not.”
Two options are continuations of existing plans. Those plans are the Preferred Provider Organization and the Qualified High Deductible Plan. Both of these plans are facing design changes that are unknown at the time.
According to the university health care benefits package from the Office of Human Resources, the university offers comprehensive health and welfare benefits plans including the PPO health plan, vision, dental and life insurance for employees and their families.
The packet also says that health savings accounts for employees who choose the QHDP and Health Savings Account health insurance option will be administered through UMB Bank, and the university contributes $720 to the HSA and the employee is given a UMB debit card. The funds are deposited at $30 per day starting Jan. 15, and the funds are to be used for qualified medical expenses.
James Loch, a professor in the School of Environmental, Physical and Applied Science, voiced his opinion on the inclusion of faculty in administrative decisions by mentioning other problems for faculty within the university.
“I understand the strategy of trying to save the university money as a whole, especially with the budget crisis, but how much longer are we going to take no raise, watch inflation increase our costs and take a bite as they resolve to increase the cost of our health care?” Loch said.
The Office of Human Resources plans on communicating information in coverage soon to ensure that faculty is informed about the opportunities within the healthcare plan. There will be informational meetings regarding the plans. To find out more information on these, keep up with UCM Daily.