GW cuts down to two health care plans

Robert Harrington, the chair of the Faculty Senate's
Robert Harrington, the chair of the Faculty Senate’s appointment, salary and promotion committee, said in a release the Benefits Advisory Committee opposed changes to employees’ healthcare plans for next year. Hatchet file photo

Updated: Aug. 10, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

GW will offer only two health benefits options for next year, according to a University release.

Beginning in October, GW employees will choose between two new health benefit plans – a single preferred provider organization plan and a health savings plan. Faculty in the Benefits Advisory Committee, the standing group of faculty and staff charged with providing feedback to the University Human Resources and Benefits Administration, were not in favor of the changes to plans, according to the release.

The single preferred provider organization plan will combine two current options to offer employees lower premium costs and others additional coverage benefits, the release stated. The savings option will increase the opportunity for employees to receive GW-funded HSA match money, but without increases to monthly premiums.

After receiving input from the committee, officials decided that a single PPO plan was “in the best interest of the 7,200-active plan participants,” according to the release.

John Kosky, the associate vice president for talent management in University Human Resources, said in the release that the changes will help employees make informed decisions regarding their health benefits health benefits based on their individual and family needs.

“The Basic and the Medium plans were very comparable in terms of value, but the premiums for the Medium plan were substantially higher than the Basic plan. Merging the PPO plans corrects this difference,” Kosky said.

The committee had dissenting views about how to address the disparity in the pricing of the two plans this year. While some members of the Benefits Advisory Committee supported consolidating the two plans, the majority of faculty members on the committee did not, according to the release. Some faculty members said they did not have enough time to review the plans to make a decision.

Robert Harrington, the chair of the Faculty Senate’s appointment, salary and promotion committee, said administrators presented the new plans to the committee on July 20 – the same day the group voted on the plans.

“Furthermore, Staff Association members had no time to study, consult its constituents about and provide HR with its views,” Harrington said in the release.

The Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution in April for the University to cover about 75 percent of health insurance costs. The University announced last year that it would increase benefits at a fixed rate of 3 percent per year.

Officials plan to offer benefits fairs, forums and one-on-one advising sessions during the open enrollment period starting Oct. 3. The University will also launch an online tool to assist employees on the medical plans learn about and manage their pharmacy and medical care.

Changes to the to the preferred provider plan will include coverage of bariatric surgery and infertility treatments, commonly used medications for gender reassignment and optional access to medical centers specializing in oncology and infertility. Employee dental coverage will see an increase in their Aetna High and Low PPO plans by $1 to $3 per month.

Next year in-network co-pays for virtual visits will be reduced from $25 to $10 under the new plan and retirees more than 65 years old will move to a private Medicare exchange, according to the release.

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that in-network co-pay amounts would be reduced. In-network co-pays for virtual visits will be reduced. We regret this error. 

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