September 19, 2003

Employees to select new benefits options

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Larry Marnett. Ph.D. Dean Dixon

Employees to select new benefits options

Next year’s Vanderbilt employee benefits package includes a new focus on preventive health care. All three of the health insurance plans that will be offered include coverage for baseline colonoscopy (for those age 50 and over). In addition, employees who complete a health risk assessment between Dec. 1, 2002 and Nov. 30, 2003 through HealthPlus, the employee health program, will receive an extra $10 per month in their 2004 paycheck. Employees can take the health appraisal online through the Human Resources Web site, or call HealthPlus, 343-8943.

During the annual benefits open enrollment period, Oct. 1 – 17, along with medical insurance plans, Vanderbilt will offer options for life and accident insurance, long term care insurance, employee-funded dental insurance, and pre-tax savings accounts exclusively earmarked for medical or day care expenses.

Two health insurance plans offered last year, United Healthcare and Vanderbilt Preferred, will be discontinued, and a CIGNA HealthCare PPO, or preferred provider organization plan, will be offered for the first time. The cost to the employee of the CIGNA PPO ranges from $40 per month for individual coverage to $165 per month for family coverage. Two other health insurance plans will be offered: a Blue Cross Preferred PPO, also ranging from $40 to $165 per month, and the Blue Cross S Plan, a lower-cost PPO ranging from $20 to $80 per month, providing comparatively limited coverage.

The CIGNA plan and Blue Cross Preferred offer cost incentives for seeking care from Vanderbilt Medical Group, community pediatricians and Vanderbilt University Hospital.

Note: If you are currently enrolled in Vanderbilt Preferred or United HealthCare, or if you have not previously enrolled for (or waved) health insurance benefits, you must make an election or your coverage will default to individual Blue Cross Preferred (in which case you’ll receive coverage but your spouse and children won’t).

The two dental plans offered last year are being discontinued in favor of two new plans from CIGNA, which offer a choice of coverage levels. (Costs for the optional dental programs are wholly borne by the employee.)

New federal rules will allow employees to use their Vanderbilt medical PSA, or personal spending account, for appropriately documented over-the-counter medicines (other than those for general good health, such as vitamins). The medical PSA allows covered Vanderbilt employees to put money from each paycheck into a pre-tax account earmarked for medical expenses (PSA account holders should take care to lowball their expected medical expenses, because at the end of the year any unspent money in the account is lost).

“Employees who expect to have medical expenses in the coming year may want to consider taking advantage of the $10 per month incentive for undergoing a health risk assessment, then place the money in a medical PSA,” said Jane Bruce, director of benefits.

Employees will receive an open enrollment package at their home mailing address in late September. The Benefits Fair will be held at a Vanderbilt Clinic location Oct. 9 – 10. Department presentations may be scheduled by calling 2-8303. For more information, visit the Human Resources Web site,