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November 12, 1998

Two current medical insurers only bidders for contract next year

Pitt's current health insurers, UPMC Health Plan and Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, were the only ones to bid for the University's employee medical insurance business for next year.

A third insurer, CIGNA Health Plan, had expressed interest but did not submit a bid.

The medical plan advisory committee, a group of faculty, staff and administrators that advises the Pitt senior administration, is poring over the UPMC and Highmark bids.

"It should take the committee a long time to review these proposals" prior to forwarding its recommendations to the senior administration, said Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources.

Pitt's current, one-year contract with Highmark and UPMC expires June 30, 1999. Open enrollment for next year is expected to begin in March.

The University is seeking a two-year contract to begin on July 1.

Monthly premiums and health coverage options for next year remain to be determined.

Last week, Faculty Assembly voted to "strongly urge" Pitt's administration to maintain a traditional indemnity health plan among the choices offered to University employees.

Pitt currently offers one such non-managed care plan: Highmark Comprehensive.

A year ago, Faculty Assembly similarly urged the administration to maintain a traditional indemnity plan, and all bids solicited by the University included such an option. This year, though, some of the plan scenarios submitted by Highmark and UPMC Health Plan do not include a comprehensive option.

Herbert Chesler and James Holland, who serve on the medical plan advisory committee in their capacity as co-chairs of the University Senate benefits and welfare committee, told Faculty Assembly that the Senate committee considered — but ultimately rejected — a suggestion to eliminate a traditional indemnity option.

Highmark Comprehensive is one of Pitt's more expensive health care options.

"It has been suggested that the [traditional indemnity] option be dropped because the self-referred care in the point-of-service option (currently Highmark SelectBlue) would be identical with the Comprehensive option if the out-of-pocket and the lifetime maximums are increased. It is also suggested that there might be some savings in the premiums," the Senate benefits and welfare committee wrote to Faculty Assembly.

"However, a comparison of premiums for the current year shows that the Comprehensive plan is somewhat lower in cost than the point-of-service plan. It is reasonable to expect that the two plans would be close in price next year as well."

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 6

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