October 4, 2002

Open Enrollment continues

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Consuming 16 ounces of water before activities such as donating blood may reduce fainting episodes. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Open Enrollment is under way through Oct. 18 as Vanderbilt employees make decisions in benefits packages for 2003.

The costs of health care, and therefore health insurance, have risen rapidly in the past few years, so prices for the plans have gone up for both the University and its staff and faculty. Four plans are being offered during this year’s open enrollment — Blue Cross Preferred, United Healthcare, Vanderbilt Preferred, and a new low-cost/lower-coverage plan, Blue Cross S. The decisions made during the open enrollment period will be effective for 2003, and, more so than most years, the decisions can have a great impact on the cost and range of the coverage an employee receives, University officials say.

The only remaining plan with no deductible is Vanderbilt Preferred; staff and faculty who choose the Vanderbilt Preferred plan and who use the services of VUMC and Vanderbilt Medical Group members have no deductibles for those services.

The cost for full family coverage for the Blue Cross Preferred plan and United Healthcare are $171 per month; the cost of Vanderbilt Preferred is $140 per month, and the Blue Cross S plan is $80 per month.

“The coverage received for premiums paid presents a good value for employees,” said Jerry Fife, acting director of Human Resource Service, of the Vanderbilt Preferred plan.

The Blue Cross S plan is a PPO that offers lower monthly premiums (almost half those of Vanderbilt Preferred), but will cost more for services.

“This is a safety net for someone who is young and healthy,” Fife explained. “It offers low-cost coverage, but if you get sick it’s going to catch up with you quickly.”

Whereas most plans offered by Vanderbilt cover 90 percent of medical expenses in network, the Blue Cross S Plan covers 60 percent, leaving the remaining 40 percent the responsibility of the patient.

Human Resources representatives will administer a self-evaluation for persons who elect this plan to help determine if the plan is right for them, Fife said. Representatives will also call participants to make sure they understand the specifics of the plan.

One of the most apparent changes this year is United Healthcare’s move from a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) to a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) with both in- and out-of-network benefits. With this plan, participants will have the flexibility of the PPO, but will have to pay deductibles with inpatient hospital stays, outpatient and other services.

Blue Cross Preferred will still be offered. However, there are changes in deductibles and co-payments.

Fife encourages all employees to carefully examine all plans to make the best choice for themselves and their families.

“Look over all material carefully and call (Human Resources) if you have questions,” Fife said. “Visit the providers’ Web sites and attend the Benefits Fair to speak with representatives.”

Employees have until Oct. 18 to choose health care and other benefit packages for 2003. Vendors will be available to answer questions at the annual Benefits Fair on Oct. 10-11, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., in rooms 2701-2704 TVC. Open Enrollment forms must be returned to Benefits Customer Service by 5 p.m. on Oct. 18.

Human Resource Services will offer several opportunities for employees to speak with Benefit Representatives about these plan changes and drop off enrollment forms.

Designated drop-off sites, manned by HRS representatives, are Oct. 7-9, Courtyard Café, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (with vendors); Oct. 10-11, TVC 2701-2704, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Benefits Fair); Oct. 14, 415 A-B Light Hall, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Oct. 14, Courtyard Café, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Oct. 15, 412 Light Hall, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Oct. 15, Courtyard Café, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Oct. 17, 345 Sarratt, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Oct. 18, TVC 2702-2703, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. (with vendors).

Throughout the OE period, there will be two drop boxes for OE forms available in the lobby of Sarratt and Medical Center North for persons with no questions.