Faculty and staff insurance enrollment begins next week

Mai Hoang

Faculty and staff learned this week about the new benefits they’ll be offered under Western’s self-insurance program beginning in January.

Employees will have the opportunity next week to enroll into one of three plans offered by Anthem, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which was tagged recently as the university’s new third-party administrator for faculty and staff health insurance.

Western’s benefits manager Mari Beth McBride said, in general, faculty and staff have responded positively to the new third-party administrator and the new plans Anthem offers.

“People have been pleased with the switch to Anthem,” she said. “The reason seems to be the national coverage and the security of being with a nationally known company.”

McBride said the new Blue Access Low and High insurance plans have comparable co-pay and deductible rates to the old Plan A and B offered by MedBen.

But employees will have the option of choosing a new plan – Blue Access Economy – which has a lower premium rate than the other plans offered by the company.

Employees who choose not to enroll in Western’s insurance program next week will be automatically enrolled into the economy plan, McBride said.

As Anthem members, employees will also receive various discounts and will have access to the company’s Web site where they can order prescriptions and look up medical care providers that are in-network.

Employees who attended the educational sessions this week about the new coverage options showed mixed feelings about the plans.

English professor Ron Eckard said the single-coverage plan offered by the company is similar to the one he has now with MedBen. He said the national network provided by Anthem will offer more options for medical care.

But Cassie Zippay, an adult education specialist for Veterans Upward Bound, found out that her 24-year-old daughter, a graduate student at Western, would not be covered under the plans offered by Anthem.

Under MedBen, her daughter was insured until she was 25. Zippay had already made plans to cover her daughter. She said she was upset that her daughter had to make alternative plans at the last minute.

“We just have very little information,” Zippay said. “If I had not attended this meeting, I still would have not known.”

Faculty and staff can enroll for next year’s insurance plan at Western’s benefits fair Monday through Wednesday.

The fair, which will have several health vendors, will be held in the Garrett Center Ballroom 8:30 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 27.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]