New Benefits Plan Unveiled
by John Gagnon, promotional writer
A major overhaul of Michigan Tech’s benefit package will give staff more options for medical coverage, including dental and vision plans.
In recent years, employees had three choices for benefits: premium, standard and deductible.
Now they have five: three health plans and two dental and vision plans.
“Providing more choices was a huge issue,” according to Ingrid Cheney, director of benefits and chair of the Benefits Liaison Group, which fashioned the new plan.
The changes are the most significant in four years, she said.
Employees have indicated they chose the premium plan, not because they preferred it, but because it was the only coverage for enhanced dental and vision.
Thus, the new plan separates medical from dental and vision coverage.
The medical coverage includes HuskyCare 1, HuskyCare 2 and HuskyCare 3. Care 1 is “very close” to the old premium plan. Care 2 is much like the old deductible plan. Care 3 is the no-premium plan.
The two options for dental and vision coverage entail a two-year commitment. If employees opt out of the coverage, they have to wait two years to get it.
With all the plans, there is an array of variables that hinge on family size and desired coverage. “Everyone’s needs and circumstances are different,” Cheney says. In some cases the cost of coverage has increased (premiums); in some cases costs have decreased (prescription drugs).
The Benefits Liaison Group has been working on the plan since spring. It advises the administration, which charged the group to “provide the best possible fringe benefit package within the University’s available resources.” As well, the administration wanted the group to achieve “cost containment.”
That is a thorny problem: “It’s more expensive to go to the doctor,” Cheney says. She notes that Tech’s medical costs have almost doubled since 1999, and they have increased 16 percent over the last year.
Besides decreased state funding, factors impinging on the cost of the plan include two expensive circumstances: there are more Tech employees, and they are older.
Cheney said the nine-member Benefits Liaison Group is comprised solely of employees. “The needs of employees are never far from our minds,” she says.
She’s pleased with their work. “We’re talking about a really good plan at a good cost.”
The Benefits Office has held a number of open forums on the new plan. The remaining forums are at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, in Memorial Ballroom A; and at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 7, in the Red Metal Room of the Memorial Union.
For more information, visit the benefits website, http://www.admin.mtu.edu/hro/benefits/index.shtml ; request handouts describing all the options; or contact the Benefits Office, 487-2517.
Tech Select forms need to be completed by Friday, Dec. 7. Failure to do so will automatically reduce the coverage to the no-premium plan. For a fee of $25, there is a one-week grace period for selecting a plan.