Redesigned Healthcare Structure Approved

The Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees took a step to ensure the long-term financial security of the institution on Wednesday, Oct. 19, by approving a redesign of the benefit structure for employees.

As a result of board approval of a proposal brought forth by the Arkansas Tech Office of Administration and Finance, the following changes will go into effect in January 2017 as part of a tiered healthcare premium structure through Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield:

*Employees will be asked to share in the cost of premiums for employee-only coverage.
*This cost will be tiered based on the employee’s salary.
*The cost will differ depending on the health plan chosen.
*The university will cover 10 percent of dependent coverage cost.
*Click on the link below for more details:

Employees will have the option of choosing one of three different plan design options:

*The current $950 deductible PPO plan.
*A new $3,000 deductible PPO plan.
*A new $2,600 deductible HSA plan.
*Click on the link below for more details:

The university will host educational sessions open to all employees concerning the redesigned benefit structure at the following dates, times and locations:

*Thursday, Oct. 27, 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – Doc Bryan Lecture Hall
*Friday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – Doc Bryan Room 242
*Tuesday, Nov. 1, 10:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m., and 1:20 p.m. – Doc Bryan 242
*Wednesday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Doc Bryan Lecture Hall

More detailed specific meetings with opportunities for individual sessions with vendors will take place on several occasions during open enrollment, which will be held Nov. 14-30.

“The administration and finance team worked with a health insurance committee with representation from across the university to prepare these recommendations,” wrote Bernadette Hinkle, vice president for administration and finance, in a memorandum presented to trustees. “Their goal was to restructure the benefits package to manage the premium increases while affecting our employees’ compensation as little as possible.”

Those serving on the health insurance committee include Jayne Jones, Linda Johnson, Bettye Williamson, Brooke Southard, Sandra Cheffer, Peter Clifton, Dr. David Ward, Dr. Jeff Woods, Dr. Kim Troboy and Dr. Lucas Maxwell.

“We would like to thank these individuals for their hard work and diligence throughout this renewal process,” said Hinkle.

Hinkle also wrote in the memorandum that “after extensive review of our claims experience, we determined that keeping the current plan design and premium structure was not sustainable.”

The initial 2017 proposed rate increase from Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield for 2017 was 24 percent, which would have resulted in a $1.2 million increased cost to Arkansas Tech University. Through negotiation and development of an alternative structure, the university was able to reduce the 2017 medical insurance plan increase to 8.8 percent.

Below are notes from the redesigned benefit structure for employees:

*Moving voluntary lines of coverage to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates (USAble, Vision Service Plan, and Datapath) will allow the university’s employees to capitalize on bundling premium savings.

*Details about vendor changes will be addressed during the educational open-sessions mentioned above, as well as, during open enrollment. Also, vendors will be on-site during open enrollment to answer any questions employees may have.

The new tiered healthcare premium structure approved by the Arkansas Tech Board of Trustees will also affect future retirees. The amended retiree health insurance policy is as follows:

*Employees who are age 60 or above and have completed 10 years of service at Arkansas Tech University may retire and be eligible to receive the same health insurance benefit options as current employees until the retiree reaches Medicare eligibility age. All employer contributions would then cease. Also, a partial premium is paid for the life insurance. All other family insurance coverage is the responsibility of the employee.

*As is the case with all other benefits, this is subject to continuing approval of the Board of Trustees. Arkansas Tech University specifically reserves the right to amend, revise, supplement or rescind any policies or portion of the handbook from time to time as it deems appropriate, in its sole and absolute discretion.

*Employees satisfying the requirements of the existing policy, who elect by Nov. 30, 2016, to retire no later than July 1, 2017, will receive the same benefits offered under the existing policy.

*Specific sessions will be held for those individuals eligible for retirement by July 1, 2017. These sessions will provide specific details to fully inform individuals of their retirement options.

The sessions for future retirees will be held at the following dates, times and locations:

*Thursday, Oct. 27, 8:30 a.m. – Doc Bryan Lecture Hall
*Friday, Oct. 28, 3 p.m. – Doc Bryan Room 242
*Wednesday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m. – Doc Bryan Lecture Hall