New health care plan was introduced during Faculty Senate
A new faculty health care plan, which will be the third option available to faculty members, was explained to members of Faculty Senate on Tuesday.
The new plan is a “consumer-driven” option that has a high deductible and an option for a health savings account that will roll over year to year that the university will contribute to each year, said Renee Rivard, director of benefits for MSU Human Resources. Faculty members can sign up online through the end of the month.
“I’m impressed with the research human resources has done to develop this third plan, and I think it meets the needs of some individuals who may not want Community Blue or Blue Cross Blue Shield (health care plans),” said Sue Carter, Steering Committee chair and journalism professor. “It adds to the variety and the opportunity to choose just the right health care plan.”
The new plan, which is available only to academic staff and faculty, not support staff, has a deductible of $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a family. The only things that are covered before the deductible is met are preventative services and generic prescriptions for chronic illnesses, such as asthma, Rivard said.
The plan has come about because faculty have been asking for it, she said. In addition, it’s helping the university get ready for a possible 40 percent excise tax that the other two plans could be subject to come 2018 — that tax would apply to the difference of the value of the plan compared to a preset threshold. The tax would be paid by individuals in the plans, so, if that comes about, people probably won’t want to continue using the plans, she said.
“We want to make sure that we have a plan that is underneath the thresholds that have been set,” she said.
Rivard said the plan is a good option for people who are relatively healthy, or who were hired in 2010 or later and won’t get university contributions for retirement health care. She said the health savings account could be built up over the years and could help pay for expenses in retirement.
The university will contribute $750 to each account each year for full-time faculty and less for part and quarter-time members. Individuals can contribute up to $3,300 each year and families can put in up to $6,500 — those totals include the MSU contribution, Rivard said. The purpose of the account is to pay for non-preventative treatments, for example, when someone on the plan sees a doctor when they have the flu.
Another advantage of the new plan is that the savings account can move from MSU if a faculty member leaves, she said.
Robert Maleczka, a chemistry professor, brought up a critique with the new consumer-driven plan: “The consumer needs to know what things are going to cost, and that’s hard to find. It’s hard to judge what I’ll be paying as a customer.”
Rivard said there are tools on MSU’s human resources website that will help faculty get an idea of how much different health products and services cost.