Health care remains a faculty concern

Open enrollment for university health plans began April 26 and will continue through May 21. A forum to discuss options, costs and coverage is scheduled for April 29.

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The UCCS Faculty Representative Assembly unanimously passed a motion regarding CU health plans at its April 9 meeting.

Don Morley, communication, made the motion on behalf of the faculty personnel and benefits committee, citing the rising cost of health care insurance, possible reduced benefits, and access to CU’s University Hospital as issues of great concern among UCCS faculty.

After some debate and revision the motion states: “Be it resolved that the Faculty Representative Assembly insist that the University will guarantee expeditious access to CU’s University Hospital to all employees outside of the Denver area enrolled in alternative medical insurance plans at the compensation levels provided by those plans.”

Charles Shub, professor, Computer Science, has served for many years on faculty benefits committees at the CU System. Shub explained some of the UCCS faculty concerns and the history of health care benefit decisions impacting CU campuses.

Initially, when United Health Care provided insurance for CU, Shub said, the university offered a choice of HMO plans. CU employees could select from either of two plans offered by United: the University Affiliates Network, known as UA Net, or the United regular network plan.

“At one point several years ago, officials at University Hospital and the University Physicians, Incorporated organization decided to force the university to choose between offering one or the other,” Shub said.

And although it created an incredible disruption to folks in both Boulder and Colorado Springs, Shub said, the CU administration chose UA Net as a far less expensive alternative.

From then on, CU employees could generally travel to Denver to use doctors and facilities sanctioned by UA Net. Yet this was not always convenient for the employees based in Boulder and Colorado Springs, especially in situations where time and location were critical factors.

Boulder and Colorado Springs employees could also, in general, keep the medical practitioners they preferred, and usually have access to UPI/University Hospital, but only if they chose a very expensive plan that allowed these options. Most found that plan beyond their means, Shub said.

A third choice was selecting a Kaiser Permanente plan that was more reasonably priced but without UPI/hospital access. Boulder employees had to switch to doctors and use facilities approved by Kaiser while those in Colorado Springs could keep their own doctors.

In July 2008, Shub said, when Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Insurance won the CU System’s bid, essentially the same options plus a high deductible plan were available. CU employees could still travel to Denver and use UA Net or choose Kaiser and not have the UA Net access. Local and UPI doctors were generally available under the high-deductible health plan, the HMO C plan, and the BluePreferred PPO plan.

These remain the choices for the upcoming year, except the HMO C plan is offered only to employees who chose it the year before, Shub said.

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