University offering employees a new health care option

University of Chicago faculty and staff will encounter two important changes as they plan their medical benefits selection for 2015.

First, the Open Enrollment period will take place earlier this fall, from Oct. 3-Oct. 17, 2014. The annual Benefits and Health Fair will be held on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.

Second, the University is offering a new kind of health plan for benefits-eligible faculty, other academic personnel and staff members, which will go by the name Maroon Savings Choice.

The new Maroon Savings Choice Plan is a preferred provider organization, such as the current Maroon Plan. Like the Maroon Plan, it will be administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, and offer the same broad network of physicians and care providers.

Maroon Savings Choice, however, will offer lower payroll contributions compared to the Maroon Plan. Offsetting that, it will have a higher deductible.

In addition, the Maroon Savings Choice Plan will give employees a tax-free health savings account, or HSA. The University will contribute a base amount to the account, and employees can choose to make additional contributions, which will be deducted from paychecks before taxes.

That account can then be used to pay out-of-pocket health care expenses. If the employee does not use the full amount of the account in a given year, that money remains in the account for future medical costs.

“The University is committed to offering quality health care benefits that provide excellent care and a variety of financial options that faculty, other academic appointees and staff can choose from to best meet their needs,” said Rich Iorio, V.P. for Human Resources. “Maroon Savings Choice represents an important addition that may be beneficial to many University employees.”

The Maroon Savings Choice Plan was developed in consultation with the Benefits Committee, which includes both faculty and staff members.

Maroon Savings Choice

  • Contributions

For calendar year 2015, the University will contribute $500 to the health savings account of every member enrolled as an individual, or $1000 for those enrolled along with a spouse and/or children. Employees have the option to contribute additional funds to their health savings account, but contributions are not mandatory. The University’s January 2015 contribution will be available for employees to utilize immediately.

Employees will be able to use their health savings account toward paying their deductible and/or co-insurance for medical care and prescription drugs, or to roll over year-to-year should they not use the benefits. Any unused HSA funds that roll over allow employees to build tax-free savings for future health care needs, including funds for medical expenses during retirement years.

  • Payments and deductible

The Maroon Savings Choice annual deductible operates like any traditional deductible, and participants can use either their health savings account funds or pay out-of-pocket to satisfy the deductible. All medical services, including prescription drug costs, count toward the medical deductible and the out-of-pocket maximum amounts.

Generally, no payment is due at the time an employee receives medical care on the Maroon Savings Choice Plan, however, health care providers will directly bill patients. After an employee meets the annual deductible, the plan begins to share in the costs. Employees will pay co-insurance until they meet their out-of-pocket maximum. When an employee reaches the out-of-pocket maximum, the plan pays 100 percent of eligible medical expenses.

Those who select the Maroon Savings Choice Plan will be 100 percent covered for all in-network preventive care, with no deductible or co-insurance.

  • More information resources

More detailed information about the Maroon Savings Choice Plan — including a calculator that will help employees to simulate costs for different situations — will be provided in advance of Open Enrollment. Employees also can learn more at the annual Benefits and Health Fair, which is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 16, and at other informational sessions during the Open Enrollment period.

Details of the new plan also will be made available on the Human Resources website, along with a list of frequently asked questions that employees can review for answers.