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USAC Gets an Employee Benefits Preview for 2019

Posted by on Friday, April 13, 2018 in Archive, News.

At its April meeting, USAC was informed about upcoming changes to employee benefits for 2019. Catherine Wood, University Benefits Executive Director, discussed how the Benefits Fiduciary Oversight Committee (BFOC) works to tailor its plans in the best interests of participants, while also making it financially sustainable for the University. Additionally, BFOC strives to ensure that its offerings are competitive with other Association of American Universities (AAU) peer institutions.

Wood pointed out that many of us spend less time researching health plan options than we do researching other types of purchases, like buying a vehicle. Consequently, her team will focus on better communicating the differences between benefits options prior to enrollment. A communications plan will be developed to inform Vanderbilt employees about the new plans much earlier in the year in order to give them more information and more time to make choices that are best for themselves and their families.

Some Updates for 2019

Details will be provided directly by Human Resources in the coming months, however, some noteworthy updates for 2019 will include:

  • FAIR ALLOCATION: Plans will be designed so that no tier (individual, +spouse, +children, +family) subsidizes another and be actuarially balanced. Additionally Vanderbilt’s contributions to employee health care will be ‘plan agnostic’ meaning that VU will contribute the same value per employee, and the same value for dependents, no matter which plan is chosen.
  • A CONSUMER DRIVEN HEALTH PLAN (CDHP): The CDHP will incorporate a Health Savings Account (HSA) which 78% of our peer institutions already utilize. The HSA will enable employees to leverage a triple tax advantage — tax-free contributions, tax-free investment income and tax-free withdrawals for eligible medical expenses. Money in the HSA can be used for health care expenses in the year in which contributions are made, or they can be saved and used in the future (even through retirement).  HSA funds are portable and the account belongs to the employee.
  • FRINGE REIMBURSEMENT: Compared to its peers, Vanderbilt’s current benefits system may not fully leverage the indirect cost reimbursement potential in support of fringe benefits from federally funded grants and contracts. Vanderbilt is reviewing common practices and determining whether adjustments should be made to the current model to reflect, and recover, all allowable reimbursements and does not unnecessarily carry that cost burden itself.
  • CO-PAY DISTINCTION: Co-pays will be higher for visits to specialists vs. visits to primary care providers (PCPs).
  • PREMIUM INCREASES: In order to keep up with the increase in health care costs nationwide, and to return to a pre-recession cost ratio of 25% (employees) to 75% (University), premiums will go up by approximately 8% overall for the Select PPO Plan.

Stay tuned for upcoming marketing materials and benefits presentations from Human Resources with information about understanding employee health plan changes for 2019 and how best to maximize your health care dollars including:

  • Marketing materials about the Tier One Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN) (outside of VUMC)
  • Alternatives to using emergency rooms (except when medically necessary) such as urgent care clinics, a nurse help line and, potentially, telemedicine
  • Extensive benefits communication support to help employees understand the two 2019 health plans
  • A new web-based decision support tool to help employees make the best health plan decision, and more

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