Stability is the watchword for this fall’s Open Enrollment. All of the current medical plans will be available in 2015, with a few benefits enhancements and few major changes.

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Open Enrollment begins at 8 a.m., Oct. 30 and runs through 5 p.m., Nov. 25.

This is the time each year when you can change your medical plan and sign up for other benefits. It is a good time to consider any changes to your situation, plan ahead for significant events and take stock of your physical wellbeing. It is a great time to be sure you’re taking advantage of the benefits that are suited to your needs.

This year, you can also enroll in the ARAG Legal plan, which will be open for enrollment with an enhanced identity theft benefit, and the vision plan, if you’re eligible. 

Medical plan enhancements

Responding to employee requests, UC is adding coverage for chiropractic and acupuncture services to its non-Medicare plans; Medicare plans already cover these services. The non-Medicare plans will cover these services for up to 24 visits combined. Your cost depends on your medical plan.

Blue Shield Health Savings Plan, Core and UC Care are also adding the Teladoc program, which lets members speak with a U.S. board-certified doctor on the phone or via videoconference any time of the day or night. Health Net Blue & Gold offers a similar program called MD Live. These programs can help when you have non-emergency medical issues, when your doctor isn’t available and in areas with limited access to urgent or emergency care. The costs vary depending on your plan.

See your Open Enrollment booklet or visit the Open Enrollment website beginning Oct. 27 for complete details on plan changes.

Medical plan premiums

Increases in medical insurance costs have become a fact of life across the U.S. as well as for UC and its faculty, staff and retirees.

For 2015, the overall premiums for UC’s Medicare supplement plans (High Option and Blue Shield Medicare PPO) are increasing more than the cost of the Medicare Advantage plans (Kaiser Senior Advantage and Health Net Seniority Plus). The Medicare supplement plans are increasing more because a greater portion of their cost is related to prescription drugs, and prescription drug prices are rising faster than general medical costs. 

In addition to the premium increases, UC continues to reduce its contribution to retiree medical premiums by 3 percent annually (to a floor of 70 percent), based on a policy adopted by the Regents in 2010. The contributions are subject to graduated eligibility.

In 2015, the UC contribution to Medicare plans (including Part B reimbursements) — both Medicare Advantage and supplement plans — will be 77 percent on average. Because of increases in plan costs, particularly for High Option and Medicare PPO, the actual dollar amount of the UC contribution is increasing in 2015, even with the 3 percent decrease. As a result, retirees in the Medicare Advantage plans will generally experience more modest increases than those in Medicare supplement plans.

For retirees under age 65 in non-Medicare plans, the UC contribution will be 70 percent on average in 2015. 

UC will spend $276 million on the retiree health program in 2015.

You can view retiree medical plan premiums here.

UC Living Well

The UC Living Well wellness program is expanding the activities that will earn points for the incentive program, administered by Optum. In 2015, getting preventive screenings and exams and participating in certain disease management programs through your health plan will earn points toward a $75 gift card. These activities are in addition to taking Optum’s Total Health Profile, participating in wellness coaching online or over the telephone, and participating in certain campus wellness activities.

All retirees are welcome to participate in wellness activities, but only those enrolled in a UC-sponsored group insurance plan are eligible for the incentive program through Optum. The Optum program will no longer be available to spouses and domestic partners due to low participation.

New tools help you choose and use benefits wisely

UC is also introducing a series of short, educational videos to help employees, retirees and their families understand their benefits and use them wisely. Available online and via mobile devices, the videos address some of the complexities of using health insurance and answer basic questions, such as what’s the difference between an HMO and a PPO. Take five minutes to visit the Open Enrollment website to view the videos.

If you have questions about your benefits, need a form or other assistance during Open Enrollment, contact the UC Retirement Administration Service Center at 800-888-8267.

Anne Wolf is a content strategist in Internal Communications at the UC Office of the President.