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Smokers will pay more thanks to changes in employee health insurance

Rates to increase approximately 5 percent for most

Megan McAtee/University Relations

KU student Andrew Jilka smokes a cigarette on campus. Smokers will pay more for their health insurance this year.

A discount for non tobacco users highlights changes to employee health insurance for plan year 2009. The discount is among the new features KU employees will need to consider during open enrollment for health insurance and flexible spending accounts, which is under way and will run through Oct. 31.

All employees enrolled in a state of Kansas health insurance plan must complete a tobacco certification form, either on paper or online during Web open enrollment, to designate tobacco use status. Kansas Health Policy Authority has indicated that those who do not make a designation during open enrollment will be defaulted into the non-disclosure category. Those with tobacco use or non disclosure status will not receive the discount and will pay higher premiums. The Non-Tobacco User Discount will be a $20 discount per pay period for non-tobacco users or tobacco users who enroll and complete the state's HEALTHQUEST "iCan Quit Tobacco Cessation Program" program.

The health policy authority, which negotiates the state of Kansas insurance plans, has also stated that misrepresentation of tobacco-user status may result in loss of the employer contribution toward the health insurance premium for the remainder of the year.

OPEN ENROLLMENT

Open enrollment information was distributed through campus mail to benefits-eligible faculty and staff in early October. The information can also be found online at www.hreo.ku.edu.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in Web open enrollment early in October in case assistance is needed with the password to access the State of Kansas Employee Self-Service Center at www.hreo.ku.edu. For benefits-related questions, contact the Human Resources Benefits Open Enrollment Hotline at 864-7402; visit 150 Carruth-O'Leary between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; or e-mail benefits@ku.edu.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend one of the 1.5-hour open enrollment meetings where representatives from Kansas Health Policy Authority will present information, answer questions and hear concerns and feedback. The meetings are scheduled:

  • 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Oct. 9, Big 12 Room, Kansas Union
  • 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Oct. 15, 150, Joseph R. Pearson Hall

KHPA will also hold meetings in Lawrence for retirees who remain in the state of Kansas health plan at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2101 Harper.

PREMIUMS

Superior Vision premiums, for both the basic and enhanced plans, will not change for plan year 2009 but dental premiums will increase for part-time employees and those with dependent coverage.

For plan year 2008, 92 percent of KU faculty and staff enrolled in Blue Cross-Blue Shield Plan A. Those who remain enrolled in that plan and qualify for the non-tobacco user discount will see approximately a 5 percent increase in their 2009 premiums. Premium information for all plans can be found in the open enrollment booklet or at www.hreo.ku.edu.

The 2009 premiums are decreasing for all Plan B options and will be lower than Plan A premiums.

In addition to changes in premiums, KHPA has made changes to out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles and copayments to both Plan A and Plan B that also should be considered when selecting a health plan. Additional information can be found in the open enrollment packet and online.

CHANGES FOR PLAN YEAR 2009

All Plan A, B and C policies cover the same benefits. The differences between the vendors offering the plans are the provider networks available, the ancillary services offered (Web site and discount programs) and the premiums. The three companies that offer Plan C each use a different vendor for their Health Savings Accounts.

No changes have been made for the Basic Vision Plan. The Enhanced Vision Plan will include a new benefit for contact lens fitting exam fees.

Tobacco control products will be covered up to a maximum plan payment of $300 per member per year as part of the Prescription Drug Plan.

PRIMARY CARE PROVIDERS

Continuing in Plan Year 2009, all of the plans are PPOs and use of a primary care physician is not required and individuals do not need a referral when seeking services. Instead, lower co-payments apply when using general practice, family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics and physician extenders (physician assistants and advance registered nurse practitioners). Using primary care network providers will result in the lowest out-of-pocket cost. Other network providers, who are not primary care type providers, will be considered specialists and a higher co-payment will be required. Using non-network providers will result in higher out-of-pocket costs. Preventive care services will not be covered for use of a non-network provider.

KHPA has indicated that each company's provider network will be used for both Plan A and Plan B. Employees should check the online provider directories or check directly with their providers to verify whether their preferred doctors/hospitals are included within a company's provider network, both within the State of Kansas and nationwide. Provider networks can change throughout the plan year.

PLANSELECT TOOL

PlanSelect, an online tool, is available to help employees pick a plan design, review the provider networks and review the ancillary services of each health plan to find a plan that best fits their needs. PlanSelect is available at www.hreo.ku.edu.

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The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university’s programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX coordinators for their respective campuses: Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 West Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS 66205, 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City, Kansas, medical center campuses).