As employers nationwide deal with skyrocketing health
care and prescription drug costs, Human Resources (HR) enlisted
the help of a group of knowledgeable and concerned Emory employees
to improve the Universitys health care plans for 2004.
The groupmade up of faculty, staff and medical representatives
from areas such as the Rollins School of Public Health, the Finance
Division, Employee Council, the University Senates fringe
benefits committee and Emory Healthcarereviewed proposals
submitted by major vendors and made recommendations for plan changes.
We are pleased to announce that, despite a large increase
in our health plan cost, we managed to keep employee premium increases
at 5 percent or less, said HR Vice President Alice Miller.
We have also added Blue Cross Blue Shield as our new vendor
for EmoryCare and HealthChoice.
Blue Cross Blue Shield offers extensive local and national
networks and an excellent disease management program, Miller
said. We will be continuously working with them to improve
the health of our employees. Aetna will continue to be the vendor
Adult orthodontia now will be available through the traditional
dental plan, and rate increases for all dental plans will be minimal.
Employees who enroll in health care coverage are automatically eligible
for behavioral health, vision, and prescription drug benefits.
Both EmoryCare and HealthChoice are preferred provider organizations
(PPOs) that offer an enhanced three-tier network: The core
network, which includes providers primarily affiliated with Emory
Healthcare; the Blue Cross Blue Shield national network; and out-of-network
options for access to any provider. By using the core network, participants
get the highest quality of care at the lowest cost.
While EmoryCare and HealthChoice use the same network providers,
Health-Choice offers a lower payroll deduction with some higher
EmoryChoice is a health maintenance organization (HMO) providing
core network and Aetna national network options. The amounts of
co-pays, coinsurance, deductibles, etc., will vary based on the
network option. However, there is no coverage for services provided
outside these two networks, and EmoryChoice members are required
to select a primary care physician (PCP) who will coordinate all
This years Open Enroll-ment Period, during which employees
may change their health care plans, will be held Oct. 20Nov.
Employees should review the health care plans carefully and
base their decision on what is best for their needs, rather than
on just the payroll deduction alone, said Mary Smith, director
of benefits for HR. Once they choose a plan, they cannot change
it until the next Open Enrollment Period.
A great way to help pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses
is with a flexible spending account (FSA), Smith continued.
Employees can reduce their taxes by setting aside money on
a pre-tax basis for medical, dental, prescription and vision expenses
not covered by insurance. In 2004, FSAs can be used to pay for over-the-counter
medicines such as pain relievers, antihistamines, contact lens solutions
and cold remedies.