June 29, 2018

Regents approve new insurance providers

Varner Hall

Proposed changes to the university’s insurance providers were approved June 28 by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

As announced in May, the university’s health insurance carrier will be UMR, a United Healthcare company, with dental insurance provided by Ameritas. Pharmacy coverage will be provided by CVS Health.

The changes, which go into effect Jan. 1, follow a comprehensive review of the university’s benefits plan. The review was completed by a 15-member committee with representation provided by faculty, staff and administration across the NU system.

Most employees will not be impacted by the changes. Employees will retain benefits, and key elements of the university’s benefits plan, including deductibles and copayments, will not change. The new provider networks are virtually identical to the current ones. In addition, premiums will not go up in 2019.

Other frequently asked questions are listed below. Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact their benefits office with additional questions.

Why are we making the changes?

First, the health insurance industry is changing rapidly, and it was important for us to test the marketplace to make sure we continue to provide employees and their families with a competitive benefits plan. We’re also looking for opportunities to achieve savings in a time of limited resources.

The benefits committee unanimously recommended new insurance providers that will help the university continue to meet its goals for competitiveness, cost-effectiveness, and satisfying the essential health needs of employees and families. United Healthcare provides benefits to nearly 426,000 Nebraskans. Local customers include the State of Nebraska, Nelnet, Peter Kiewit, Union Pacific, First Data, ConAgra and Nebraska Medicine.

How do I know whether my current provider is in-network for UMR or Ameritas?

University leaders expect minimal disruption in provider coverage. Employees are encouraged to contact UMR, Ameritas or current providers directly to determine if healthcare providers will be in-network. The university’s health insurance will be offered under the United Healthcare Choice Plus network. In rare instances where a provider is not in-network, both UMR and Ameritas have indicated they are willing to expand offerings to minimize the chances of any employee having to find a new doctor or dentist.

I read the university will save $12 million from the changes. How can we save that much money without significant changes to our benefits plan?

It is important to note the $12 million represents total savings from health, dental, pharmacy and life insurance plans, including employee out-of-pocket costs. About half of that, $6 million, will come from the state-aided budget, representing savings that will help address the NU system’s budget challenge. Through this switch, premiums will not increase next year, and employees’ benefits, including deductibles, co-payments and maximum out-of-pocket costs, will not change.

Will new procedures or therapies be covered in the future?

If a procedure or therapy is covered now, it will continue to be covered.

In terms of new items that might be covered going forward, university leaders do not expect any major changes. A complete list will be available before NUFlex enrollment begins in October. Any enhancements to the plan would first be vetted by the same universitywide committee that recommended the new insurance providers.

Can I provide input on our benefits plan and what should be covered?

A broadly representative group is reviewing elements of the benefits plan now. This group includes faculty, staff and administration from all four campuses; all NU benefits leads; and an outside consultant, Gallagher. Members of the university community can provide feedback at https://nebraska.edu/brt/contact-and-feedback/human-resources-suggestions.

I’m at UNMC and I understand Nebraska Medicine previously made the switch to UMR. Will the university’s health plan be the same as Nebraska Medicine’s?

No. The university has a self-insured health plan, meaning it is in control of the elements of its plan — what gets covered, deductibles, premiums and so on. Again, no major changes are expected to the current health plan.

I still have questions. Who can I call?

Information sessions about the new insurance providers will be offered during the fall semester. Presentation dates will be announced. For more immediate assistance, contact the University of Nebraska–Lincoln benefits office at 402-472-2600 or benefits@unl.edu.