Employee health care plans for 2008 updated after surveys

The University of Miami has updated its 2008 health care benefits program based on surveys and feedback information, both of which were completed by 3,800 employees on the three main campuses.

Joe Natoli, senior vice president for Business and Finance, said that he has received positive feedback since he announced the changes in an e-mail sent out to employees Aug. 9.

One of the most significant survey responses concerned out-of-pocket expenses and monthly premiums, which most respondents said were most important when selecting a health care plan.

In a phone interview with The Miami Hurricane, Natoli said that part of the new plan is for the HMOs (health maintenance organizations) to do away with the gatekeeper function, which was previously used as a cost management tool. In addition, co-insurance costs will be replaced with co-pays after most survey participants responded that they were confused by the concept of co-insurance, where the employee pays a percentage of the total cost for certain procedures.

About 80 percent of university employees are signed up for university health care. While the new cost of each plan has yet to be released, Natoli said he does not believe there will be a significant increase in the plan costs.

Another updated incentive states that co-pays will be less for all services performed by UM physicians at UM facilities.

“We’d rather spend our money with our doctors in our own facilities,” Natoli said, noting that the university absorbs more than 75 percent of employee health care costs. “To save money, over time, will provide more incentive to use the best doctors.”

The Hurricane reported last January that the UMatter program offers many routine services for free, including breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancer screening. The updated initiatives include an enhanced mammography benefit, which will provide one free screening or diagnostic mammogram per year.

“There will be a big focus on wellness initiatives this year,” Natoli said. “Our favorite way to deal with rising healthcare costs is by providing incentives to remain healthy.”

In his e-mail, Natoli also stated that the administration is working to finalize the plans and employee premiums by early this month. Open Enrollment will begin Oct. 15 and run until Nov. 2. Employees are encouraged to attend informational sessions or contact Human Resources with any questions or concerns.

“The right decision is still a very personal decision,” Natoli said. “Employees should weigh their options to help understand which plan will work best for them.”

Megan Ondrizek may be contacted at m.ondrizek@umiami.edu.