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October 15, 1998

Health insurance bids due to Pitt today

Today, Oct. 15, is the deadline for health insurers to submit bids for Pitt's employee medical insurance business for next year.

The University's current insurers, UPMC Health Plan and Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, had expressed interest in bidding. So had CIGNA Companies, a national insurer with a growing presence in western Pennsylvania.

"We sent out requests for bids to all major health insurers in the region, and those are the three that responded that they wanted to bid for our business," said Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources.

Pitt's current, one-year contract with Highmark and UPMC Health Plan doesn't expire until June 30, 1999. But the Univer-sity's open enrollment period (during which faculty and staff may change their benefits choices) begins in March, and the Pitt administration hopes to announce next year's insurers in January. The University is seeking a two-year contract for next year, members of a Pitt health insurance advisory group told Faculty Assembly last week. Herbert Chesler and James Holland represent the University Senate's benefits and welfare committee on the group, which includes faculty, staff and administrators. It advises the senior administration on medical benefits.

The advisory group will review each of the 300- to 350-page bids for next year and recommend vendors and coverage choices. At the request of Chesler and Holland, Faculty Assembly plans to discuss Nov. 3 whether to recommend maintaining a non-managed care option.

Currently, Highmark's Comprehensive plan (the most expensive option offered at Pitt) is the only one here that puts no restrictions on employees' choice of physicians. Last year, Pitt's administration retained High-mark Comprehensive, thereby following the Assembly's request to maintain at least one non-managed care option. But other, less expensive options may provide virtually identical coverage to that of Highmark Comprehensive, Chesler said.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 4

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