May 15, 2018

University to change health, dental insurance providers

Varner Hall

Following a comprehensive review of its benefits plan and vendors, the University of Nebraska has selected new carriers for health and dental insurance beginning Jan. 1.

Pending approval of the Board of Regents at its June 28 meeting, the university’s health insurance carrier will change from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska to UMR, a United Healthcare company. The university’s dental insurance carrier will change from Blue Cross to Ameritas. CVS Health will continue to provide pharmacy insurance.

“We know any change of this nature, particularly one related to health care, will raise questions,” said Bruce Currin, associate vice president of human resources for the NU system. “We want (employees) to know that we expect minimal disruption.”

Under the new plan, employee health and dental premiums will not go up in 2019. No significant changes in the university’s benefits plan design, including deductibles and copayments, are expected.

Additionally, the new networks of health and dental providers are virtually identical to the current networks. About 96 percent of health providers used by university employees and their families last year were in the UMR (United) network, compared to 98 percent for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Two-thirds of dental providers used last year were in the Ameritas network — the same share that were in the Blue Cross network. Both United and Ameritas will consider adding providers to their network to minimize the chances of any employee having to find a new doctor or dentist, and both would assist employees in finding new providers if necessary.

Currin praised the work of the 15-member committee representing faculty, staff and administration from all four campuses that guided the months-long benefits review process. With the help of an outside consultant, Gallagher, the committee conducted a competitive request for proposals, evaluating bids from multiple vendors based on a range of factors.

“Our goal throughout our review was to make certain we had a benefits plan that’s both competitive and cost-effective for employees and their families,” Currin said.

The new insurance carriers were unanimously recommended by the benefits committee, and supported by President Hank Bounds and the NU chancellors, for both financial and non-financial reasons.

With the new carriers, the university will save an estimated $12.3 million annually, including $6 million in state-aided savings. Other factors that led to the change included excellence in customer care, proximity of network providers and timeliness of claims processing.

The benefits committee is currently reviewing the university’s plan design. While major changes are not planned, any enhancements would be communicated to employee prior to the university’s annual NUFlex benefits enrollment period, which begins in October.

The comprehensive benefits review was among the strategies announced last fall as part of the universitywide budget response team process.

Human resources officials and the new insurance carriers are planning campus outreach efforts for the fall. Details on the information sessions will be announced.

Faculty and staff with questions should contact the University of Nebraska–Lincoln benefits office at or 402-472-2600.