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   from the issue of November 17, 2005

  'Basic' to cost more, wellness benefit bolstered

Benefits increase slightly


The annual open enrollment period for university benefits will buck national trends - offering an increase in benefits for all and a modest rise in medical coverage costs for some.

According to information from NU Central Administration, medical coverage costs for university employees enrolled in the "basic" option will increase between $6 and $20 per month. Employees enrolled in the "low" or "high" options will not see premium increases.

To promote wellness, the university is offering additional benefits in 2006 with changes to routine, preventative services benefit.

The benefit for preventive services (such as annual physical exams) increases to $250 from $150 annually, per person enrolled. Also, to help cover well-baby visits, the dependent child (1 year and younger) benefit increases to $500, from $150 annually.

The purchase of generic prescription drugs will also benefit employees as the deductible will not be applied to generic drug purchases beginning in 2006.

Co-pays (the amount paid after the deductible has been met) for prescriptions will be $10, $28 and $45. The prescription drug deductible is $50 per person enrolled.

Greg Clayton, director of benefits and risk management at UNL, said the prescription drug co-pays and the $50 deductible will remain unchanged.

"The changes we are seeing this year are minimal and are very positive," Clayton said. "This is really the first time in the last two or three years we haven't seen an increase in all categories or some plan changes."

The increase in the "basic" medical care coverage ranges between 9.7 and 11 percent, depending on the level of coverage.

The cost for single enrollees increases $6, from $124 to $130 per month; employee/spouse coverage is up $16, from $194 to $210; employee/children coverage increases $10, from $166 to $176; and family coverage is up $20, from $244 to $266.

Those costs are offset by NUCredits provided by the university. Full-time university employees receive $63 in NUCredits each month.

The university will also provide more toward medical coverage. According to Keith Dietze, director of Universitywide Benefits, the university contribution will be 17 percent in 2006.

Premiums and benefits in the university dental, vision and life insurance plans continue unchanged.

Dietze said long-term disability premiums will decrease 10 percent due to, "positive claim experience."

Employees also have the option of enrolling or changing coverage in dental, vision, and life insurance. Dental, vision allow new enrollees every two years.

All employees must fill out and return a tobacco/nicotine designation change form for life insurance coverage. This form simply asks about tobacco use, allowing for the use of two rate structures in the life insurance coverage.

Employees who use health care and dependent care reimbursement accounts, are also required to enroll during the enrollment period. Dietze also pointed out that the annual dependent care reimbursement claims deadline is being extended to March 31 next year, matching the date for health care reimbursement claims. The dependent care deadline for 2005 was Jan. 31.

Retirees who continue to use the university benefits package will see larger increases. Those retirees who also use Medicare programs will have a premium increase averaging 15 percent (the total varies across multiple categories offered via Medicare); and retired individuals not enrolled in Medicare will have a 40 percent increase in premiums.

Based on a recommendation made by the NU president's Healthcare Advisory Committee, the university will not offer a Medicare Prescription Part D Drug plan that begins Jan. 1. They plan to monitor and study the new program, with the possibility of implementing it in the future.

Dietze said the NU system provides benefits coverage to 1,400 retirees, 1,200 of which also use Medicare options.

For information on university benefits changes, call 472-2600 or go online to

NU Benefits

The following changes have been made to the NU benefits package and go into effect Jan. 1.

• The monthly cost for "Basic" health insurance will increase: $6 for employee only coverage; $10 for employee/child; $16 for employee/spouse; and $20 for family coverage.

• "Low" and "High" health insurance premiums remain unchanged.

• Wellness coverage for routine, preventive services per individual is $250, up from $150.

• Routine preventive services for children (1 year of age and under) is $500, up from $150.

• The $50 deductible will no longer be applied to generic drug purchases.

• There will be no changes in deductible, co-insurance or stop-loss for the medical plan.

• There will be no changes in pharmacy co-payment amounts.



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