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Benefits Strategy Addresses Rising Healthcare Costs

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June 6, 2006

Northwestern has adopted a long-term health care strategy that gives faculty and staff greater choice and control over health care spending and takes advantage of new tax-deferment and savings legislation.

Associate Vice President of Human Resources Guy Miller said the changes, which will take effect Jan. 1, will address rising healthcare costs. A newsletter, entitled "It's Your Choice. Take Care," will be mailed to employees throughout the summer to outline benefits changes for Open Enrollment in the fall.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to evaluate the plans based on their personal circumstances and engage family members in the decision. The benefits division anticipates that, after evaluating the new benefit options, many individuals may select a different health care plan than the one in which they are enrolled.

Some highlights of the new plans include:

• Online enrollment

For the first time, faculty and staff will enroll online rather than by completing paper forms.

• New Coverage Tiers

The number of coverage tiers will increase from  single  and family coverage options to four options, including employee only; employee and spouse; employee and child(ren); or employee, spouse and child(ren). This change is designed to reflect the range of financial and personal circumstances among faculty and staff.

• New PPO Choices

Faculty and staff can choose between three different PPO plans including the Premiere PPO Plan similar to and replacing the current PPO Plan (Plan A); a second option called the Select PPO Plan; and a third option called the Value PPO Plan that includes a Health Savings Account. (HSA). The Value PPO Plan with a HSA takes advantage of tax-savings features outlined in recent federal legislation. All three PPO options provide coverage for the same types of health care services, such as physician care, hospitalization and prescription drugs. The plans differ in the amount of monthly premiums paid and in how employees and the plan distribute costs for health care services. The University will continue to pay for the majority of health plan costs.

Topics: People