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April 28, 2011

Open enrollment ends May 11

Open enrollment for Pitt’s employee benefits continues until May 11. Information packets with details of Pitt’s benefits plans, including vision and dental plan options, and long-term care and life insurance choices, were mailed during the week of April 18.

Employees who did not receive their packets should contact Benefits at 412/624-8160.

Pitt health insurance premiums are going up next year, but at a rate lower than the national average, officials here say. Copays on prescription drugs also will increase.

The overall cost increase of Pitt’s medical plans, which are administered by UPMC Health Plan, is 3.3 percent for the health plan year that begins July 1, according to Benefits director John Kozar. That compares to a projected national average increase of 6.4 percent, he noted.

Panther Gold enrollees, who make up about 90 percent of the approximately 23,000 plan members (employees, spouses/domestic partners and children), will see their monthly premiums rise $2 for individuals, from $57 to $59; $5 for parent/child(ren), from $140 to $145; $7 for two adults, from $208 to $215, and $10 for family coverage, from $290 to $300.

Pitt’s overall health care costs for the coming plan year are projected to be roughly $103 million-$104 million, up from about $100 million for the current plan year. The University will continue to absorb 80 percent of the annual rate increase to the medical programs covered under the UPMC medical plan options, Kozar said.

Employees who elect to maintain their current benefits need not take any action; all others must make changes by May 11. Changes must be made electronically by following the online enrollment procedure, accessible at by clicking on the “open enrollment” link. An instruction sheet for online enrollment is provided in the printed enrollment materials.

A confirmation letter will be sent to the employee’s home address within a few days of changes being made, according to Human Resources.

Open enrollment is the only time that the Internal Revenue Service permits benefits changes to be made. Otherwise, changes are permitted only if there is a qualified life event such as birth of a child, marriage, divorce or loss of a spouse’s coverage.

To help keep the increases in health plan rates relatively low, Kozar said, the University is making two copayment changes:

• Pharmacy copayments for generic and preferred brand drugs will increase by $2 for each prescription. Copayments for non-preferred brands will increase by $4 for each prescription and copayments for specialty medication will increase by $9 for each prescription.

• For Panther Gold HMO plan only: Office and specialist visits will increase by $5.

Plan members can save on prescription drug copays by purchasing a 90-day supply of prescription drugs at the Student Health Service pharmacy or Falk Pharmacy at a discount. The savings is equal to one copay.

Plan options continue to be Panther Gold (HMO), Panther Premium (PPO), Panther Plus (PPO) and Panther Basic (PPO). Details on premium rate increases are included in the informational packets.

All plans will continue to waive copays and deductibles for age-related wellness and preventive services completed in-network, such as pediatric immunizations, mammography, colonoscopy, Pap tests and prostate exams.

Pitt is continuing to offer nutritional counseling with a registered dietician. The service, available up to six times per plan year, can be accessed at 1-800/807-0751.

The University will continue to offer optional dental and vision coverage. For dental coverage, Pitt entered the first year of a new two-year contract with United Concordia. The Davis Vision three-year contract is entering its third year.

The dental and vision plan designs will remain the same; however the dental rates have increased by 1.8 percent. The rates for the vision program will remain the same for the third consecutive year. Details on both plans are contained in the packets.

Due to new federal health care reform provisions, coverage of eligible adult children will change Pitt’s benefits, effective July 1, Kozar said. The new policy allows adult married and unmarried children, up to the age of 26, to be covered under their parent’s medical insurance. The federal provisions supersede Pennsylvania’s Act 4 provision that provided coverage up to age 30.

However, at Pitt any dependents that are age 26 or older and enrolled in coverage as of June 30, 2011, will be “grandfathered” for coverage under Act 4 as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. For more information on these policies refer to

Kozar noted that this year open enrollment also provides an opportunity for employees to enroll in group long-term care insurance through Unum Life Insurance Co. without the need to complete an Evidence of Insurability application, provided the employee previously has not been declined coverage by Unum. For this benefit only, open enrollment is extended to May 31.

More information on the group long-term care insurance plan is available at

Faculty and staff representatives on Pitt’s medical advisory committee were pleased that health insurance cost increases will be relatively low for employees.

Advisory committee member Linda Rinaman, who also chairs the University Senate benefits and welfare committee, told the University Times, “Through insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, employees pay, on average, only 20 percent of the medical bills charged by hospitals, doctors and pharmacies; the University budget covers the remaining 80 percent of the true cost of our health care. We are fortunate that these health care costs will be limited to a relatively modest 3.3 percent increase this year, especially considering that the national cost of health care has increased by nearly twice as much.”

Rinaman credited the dedication of the Benefits department for holding down cost increases. “The Benefits office has worked tirelessly with the medical advisory committee to consider all options that will allow the University to continue offering its employees access to — and coverage for — world-class health care, while at the same time constraining both employee and University costs by implementing relatively small adjustments with minimal negative impact,” she said.

Michael Pinsky, president of the University Senate who sits on the medical advisory committee, said, “I am pleased with the limited cost increases considering the tough budget realities faced both in terms of rising costs and reduced state support.”

Staff Association Council (SAC) President Gwen Watkins, who is on the advisory committee, said, “SAC representatives worked with the medical benefits advisory board to make recommendations with regard to health benefit costs. On behalf of staff, we thank them for their diligence in creating a plan where costs for staff have been kept in small rates.”

More information on Pitt’s health care and other employee benefits can be found at

Human Resources will hold benefits fairs on Pitt’s five campuses:

• Pittsburgh — noon-2:30 p.m. May 5, 1105ABC Scaife Hall; long-term care insurance presentation — noon-1 p.m. May 9, 1105B Scaife.

• Johnstown — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. April 28, Student Union Cambria Room.

• Greensburg — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. May 3, 101 and 118 Village Hall.

• Bradford — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. May 9, Frame-Westerberg Commons, Mukaiyama University Room.

• Titusville — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. May 10, Haskell Memorial Library.

—Peter Hart

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