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April 13, 2006

Health plan open enrollment begins

Pitt employees on average will pay 8 percent more in health care premiums for the plan year that begins July 1.

For Panther Gold enrollees, who make up about 90 percent of employees receiving health care benefits through Pitt, premiums will increase from $44 to $47 per month for individuals, and from $242 to $261 a month for family coverage.

Panther Premier monthly premiums will be increased from $40 to $43 for individuals and from $229 to $247 for family coverage. Family coverage premiums will increase from $128 to $138 for Panther Plus enrollees, with no premium increase for individuals who pay $5 per month in that plan.

There will be no changes for Panther Basic subscribers, who are not charged for individual coverage and who pay $15 per month for family coverage.

Prescription drug co-payments remain unchanged for all plans for the second consecutive year.

Details of the benefits plans, including vision and dental plan options, long-term care and life insurance choices and retirement selections, are contained in packets mailed to all employees’ campus addresses this week. Pitt’s open enrollment period begins today, April 13, and runs through May 8.

Employees are required to enroll in one of the benefits plans or demonstrate that they have alternative health insurance. All benefits elections automatically will continue for the new plan year unless a participant changes his or her benefits elections on line by May 8.

According to a 2005 national survey of employer-sponsored health plans, the health care inflation rate nationally was 12 percent, said John Kozar, Pitt director of Benefits. Pitt’s overall health care costs for the coming plan year are projected to be about $80 million, up 8 percent from $74 million for the current plan year, he said.

The University will absorb 80 percent of the annual rate increase to the medical programs covered under the UPMC medical plan options.

Herbert Chesler, co-chair of the Senate benefits and welfare committee, said that in most years Pitt has picked up 80 percent of health care cost increases. “We’re pleased that the University is doing that again. But that is not written in stone,” he said. “Benefits and welfare may have to look into making that a formal policy in future years.”

Pitt’s fitness for life initiative, launched last July, will continue to focus on education, preventive care and disease-management programs for employees, Kozar said. Regardless of the Pitt medical plan chosen, employees will be entitled to, at no cost to them, age-related preventive services completed in-network, such as pediatric immunizations, mammography, colonoscopy, PAP tests and prostate exams. These services are not subject to co-payments or deductibles.

However, the waiver of one month’s health care premium in exchange for participating in a health screening offered this year will not be renewed during the 2006-2007 plan year.

Wellness-related information and links to other health information web sites can be found at

Staff Association Council President Rich Colwell said that the University has taken positive steps to keep health care costs contained, such as promoting the fitness for life program and maintaining co-payment cost for prescription medications.

But he would like to see Pitt do more.

“Because of scheduling difficulties with primary care physicians and with the $100 co-payment for each hospital stay, the Staff Association Council would like to see more options for treatment at the level between the emergency room and the physician,” Colwell said. “Clinical settings may be part of that solution. Clinical settings that offer around-the-clock service should be available when physicians [are unavailable] and the health issue has not yet reached the level of emergency.”

The University’s dental and vision contracts were up for renewal this year, and were competitively bid, Kozar said.

Pitt will continue to contract with United Concordia for dental coverage. There will be no rate increase for the Flex I and II plans for the next two years. The Concordia Plus plan, however, will be increased by 5.8 percent (from $12.78 to $13.53 per month for individuals, and from $42.02 to $44.77 for family coverage).

The vision program will maintain its current rates ($3.71 per month for individuals, $9.07 for families) for an additional three years.

Highmark is maintaining the same plan design, but will offer the program under the name Davis Vision instead of Clarity Vision. During the April 13-May 8 enrollment period, employees may enroll in the group long term care insurance plan (or increase their insurance, if currently enrolled) without answering any medical questions (referred to as “guaranteed issue”). This is a one-time opportunity to enroll in the plan under the guaranteed issue terms.

For more information on the long-term care plan, contact UnumProvident, the insurance carrier, at

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

Pitt’s open enrollment period for employee medical benefits starts today, April 13, and runs through May 8. Enrollment materials have been mailed to all employees’ campus addresses.

To make changes, employees must follow the on-line enrollment procedure, which is accessible at by clicking on the “open enrollment” link. An instruction sheet for on-line enrollment is provided in the printed enrollment materials.

Those who register on line by April 25 will be eligible for prize drawings.

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

Human Resources has scheduled benefits fairs, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 24 and 25 in the Alumni Hall Ballroom. Benefits staff and representatives from the insurance carriers, including the optional dental (Concordia) and vision (Davis Vision) plans, will be on hand to answer questions.

Benefits staff may be reached at 412/624-8160.

Regional campus fairs also are scheduled:

Pitt-Greensburg: April 19, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in Village Hall;

Pitt-Johnstown: April 20, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Student Union Cambria Room;

Pitt-Bradford: April 26, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the University Room;

Pitt-Titusville: April 27, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Haskell Library.

—Peter Hart

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