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   from the issue of November 15, 2007

Medical premiums unchanged for full-time employees


For the second consecutive year, premiums for medical insurance in 2008 for full-time UNL faculty and staff will not increase - and in some cases will decrease.

The new year will also bring a more focused effort on wellness.

"Plan members deserve a great deal of credit," said Keith Dietze, director of universitywide benefits. "I believe they understand if we all work to hold down claims, the net result is no necessary increases in premiums for active employees.

"At the same time, we've worked hard behind the scenes with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Caremark in plan design, monitoring costs, and communicating with participants to keep medical insurance premiums affordable. We're very proud to announce we're holding costs for the second year in a row."

Further, Dietze said that 2008 will mark the kickoff of a new universitywide wellness program to be phased in over the next few years. The first phase of that program will begin with opportunities to help employees quit smoking.

"Administrators at the university value the well being of our faculty and staff, and fully support the goal of making wellness a part of our culture on our campuses," Dietze said. "An important measure of any workplace is the health of its employees. This institution values doing everything we can to encourage our employees to have a healthy work-life balance."

Employees should receive the 2008 NUFlex benefits packets the week of Nov. 19. The packets provide more complete details regarding benefits, costs and enrollment procedures. Enrollment for 2008 university benefits runs Nov. 19 to Dec. 7.

Medical insurance premiums will remain exactly the same in 2008 for full-time faculty and staff enrolled in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Basic and High option. In addition, medical deductibles, annual out-of-pockets limits and prescription drug copays will remain the same.

Dietze said NU is introducing a new pricing/design strategy for the Low option plan, creating a low-cost option for persons who are willing to accept a higher deductible and out-of-pocket limit in exchange for a lower premium. Under this revised approach, premiums for those enrolled in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Low option will decrease by 23 to 38 percent, depending on the coverage category in which they are enrolled.

"This is no accident," Dietze said. "One of our objectives is to offer a moderately priced plan for those employees who seldom use medical care or services."

Part-time faculty and staff will see an increase in medical coverage premiums.

Dental premiums will mirror 2007 figures. Vision coverage premiums will increase slightly, offering an expanded network of providers and other benefit enhancements.

And, Dietze said the university's contribution to medical insurance will increase across the board.

The 2008 enrollment period is also important because it marks the two-year cycle of signing up for dental and vision coverage and filling out the tobacco/nicotine designation form.

"This is the open year to commit for two years to the vision and dental coverage," Dietze said. "Your decision will be good for two years, with coverage running to Dec. 31, 2009."

NU will phase in a coordinated wellness program, which begins in 2008 by adding medication for smoking cessation to the Caremark prescription drug plan. Also, NUCredits - which employees can use to help pay health insurance benefits - will be renamed WellCredits. Dietze said employees will learn more in the coming months about using the credits for tools and resources to help achieve and maintain overall wellness.

"We know that being healthy and taking care of yourself in the best way possible makes your work life more productive and satisfying," Dietze said. "First and foremost, healthier employees are happier, more balanced people. But beyond that, healthier employees are more productive, have fewer sick days and pay lower medical bills."

The enrollment period ends Dec. 7. Dietze said benefit confirmation statements are scheduled to be distributed Dec. 14. Any final benefits changes must be made by Dec. 31. For more information, contact Benefits at 472-2600.

NUFlex Enrollment Info

• Full-time employees enrolled in the high or basic medical coverage will see no increase in premiums.

• Premiums decrease and deductibles increase in the low medical coverage option for full-time employees.

• Dental premiums are unchanged.

• Vision premiums will increase slightly.

• This is an open enrollment year for dental and vision coverage (good for two years).

• Tobacco/nicotine designation forms must be filled out this year.

• For more information, contact Benefits at 472-2600.



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