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Monday, December 22, 2014

Faculty, staff voice concerns about health plan changes

assistant-news@dailylobo.com
@ChloeHenson5

Staff, faculty and other members voiced to UNM administration their concerns about changes to their health benefit plan during a special faculty meeting Thursday afternoon.

The Board of Regents passed changes to the health insurance plan Tuesday.

UNM President Robert Frank called the emergency meeting on Thursday to go over changes to employees’ health insurance plan and answer questions from staff, faculty and other involved community members.

Some attendees felt that the plan disproportionately affected them.

As a single parent with a child, Kimberly Gauderman, a faculty member from the history department, said these changes would cause her deductible to triple.

“Why were people like me not considered in your computations?” she said.

The changes will cause insurance deductibles for individual employees to triple from $200 to $600, according to a document shown at the meeting. Deductibles will also triple from $400 to $1,200 for employees with a spouse, and employees with a family will see it double from $600 to $1,200.

Maximums for out-of-pocket pay for individuals will also increase from $1,750 to $2,250, according to the document. Maximums will also increase for couples from $3,500 to $4,500. They will decrease for families from $4,750 to $4,500.

Frank said he sympathized with those who felt singled out by the changes, but the University couldn’t create a plan that was equitable for everyone.

“Plans are constructed in a general industry standard, and this is an industry standard,” he said. “This is the best that we can do with the plan, they’re not equal by all standards to all people…I wish we can make it perfect for everybody, but I can’t do that for you.”

The changes also include a $5 increase in co-pay, excluding emergency and urgent care. They will also allow insurance to now cover autism.

John Hatz, a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., said the changes in health insurance could also help mitigate costs that will arise from an excise tax enforced by the Affordable Care Act in 2018.

“The University will be responsible for paying a 40 percent tax on benefits that cost an employee over $10,200,” he said. “So, making those changes will help reduce those costs.”

On Tuesday, the Board of Regents also voted for a 3 percent increase in compensation for faculty and a 2.5 percent increase for staff. The board initially passed a 3 percent increase for faculty and a 2 percent increase for staff in March.

Frank said the increase in compensation had been a priority. He said the new plan would save employees money in premiums.

“If we hadn’t done anything, we think our premiums would have increased about 7 percent,” he said. “But because we’ve done this, I think our premiums are going to increase about 3 percent.”