UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > October 2001 Search

October 2001

UCAR selects new health care provider

A new partnership (left to right): CIGNA HealthCare of Colorado client strategy specialist Kimberly Eberhard and client manager Diane Clark, with UCAR benefits administrator Cyd Perrone, benefits manager Laurie Carr, and benefits administrative assistant Kristen Alipit. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

CIGNA Information Meetings

Date Time Location
Tues. 30 Oct. 10 a.m.–noon ML
Tues. 30 Oct. 2–4 p.m. Pearl
Thurs. 1 Nov. 10 a.m.–noon Jeffco
Tues. 6 Nov. 10 a.m.–noon FL
Tues. 6 Nov. 1–3 p.m. FL
Wed. 7 Nov. 10 a.m.–noon ML
Wed. 7 Nov. 1–3 p.m. ML
Tues. 13 Nov. 10 a.m.–noon ML
Wed. 14 Nov. 1–3 p.m. FL
Wed. 14 Nov. 6:30–8:30 p.m. ML
Tues. 27 Nov. 10 a.m.–noon FL
Wed., 28 Nov. 1–3 p.m. ML

Meeting rooms:

ML: Main Seminar Room

Pearl: Cafeteria

FL: Auditorium

Jeffco: Conference Room

UCAR employees this fall will have the option of selecting CIGNA HealthCare for their 2002 medical and dental benefits. CIGNA, which features a comprehensive network of physicians in Colorado and nationwide, replaces PacifiCare.

Employees can choose between two CIGNA plans: a preferred provider organization (PPO) that allows a wide choice of primary care doctors and specialists, and a health maintenance organization (HMO) that provides coverage for specified doctors only. CIGNA will also offer a dental plan.

As before, employees also will have the option of using the Kaiser Permanente HMO plan.

All staff—including those who are remaining with Kaiser or declining UCAR health benefits—must choose a plan during the open enrollment period that runs from 29 October to 30 November. As in past years, employees will make their health care selections on line; HR will announce the Web address before the start of open enrollment.

The new benefits will take effect on 1 January. Beginning in 2002, UCAR also will offer a free CIGNA employee assistance plan (EAP) to provide confidential counseling and other types of support to all staff and their families—even those who are casuals or student assistants, or who do not have UCAR health benefits. The EAP's services, which will be available 24 hours every day of the year, are designed to help in situations ranging from crisis intervention and ongoing problems to questions about legal services and financial assistance.

In addition, UCAR has selected Denver Reserve to administer its flexible spending accounts for health care and dependent care. Once employees sign up for flex spending, they will be able to go on line to check balances and other information about their accounts.

Reasons for the change

In August 1999, HR conducted employee focus groups on health care. At that time, employees expressed a high level of dissatisfaction and frustration with the changes in and instability of medical provider networks.

UCAR asked Watson Wyatt, its actuarial and benefits consultant, to identify potential replacement medical plans. After an analysis of the insurers' provider networks, depth of coverage, and discounts, as well as contract proposals that the insurers submitted, HR recommended that UCAR select CIGNA. The President's Council approved the recommendation last month.

HR director Bob Roesch notes that one of CIGNA HealthCare's best features is its broad network that includes three major providers in its Boulder County HMO: Boulder Medical Center, Avista Hospital in Louisville, and Longmont Clinic. These providers have dropped from the PacifiCare Exclusive Provider Organization network over the past few years—a change that caused many employees to switch from the EPO to the PPO, resulting in higher monthly premiums for the employees and higher costs for UCAR.

"CIGNA is a national insurer and has PPO and HMO networks throughout the country," says HR benefits manager Laurie Carr. "This is a significant improvement for employees in the Washington, D.C., area, who have had limited or no access to health care provider networks in the past."

Features of the CIGNA plans include:

Vision coverage that had been included in the PacifiCare EPO plan will no longer be provided. However, the individual maximum amount that participants can deposit into flexible spending accounts for health care will increase to $4,000 per year.

More information on the way

In early October, HR is mailing an announcement about the changes to employees and retirees at their home addresses. Later in the month, employees will receive packets in interoffice mail containing more detailed information to assist them in choosing a health-care plan. (Retirees will receive the packets at home.)

The mailings will include information on the 2002 premiums, which had not been finalized as of press time.

Beginning on 30 October, HR will hold a series of meetings for employees, with CIGNA and Kaiser representatives in attendance, to answer any questions about the plans ( see sidebar).

Employees with specific questions are asked to contact designated benefits staff in HR. Those employees whose last names begin with letters from A to I can contact Kristen Alipit (x8706; kalipit@ucar.edu); those whose names begin with J to R should contact Laurie Carr (x8702; lcarr@ucar.edu); and those whose names begin with S to Z should contact Cyd Perrone (x8710; cperrone@ucar.edu) .

Cyd, who is UCAR benefits administrator, says: "We want the transition to be a smooth one."

  • Nancy Norris (HR)

    On the Web:
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    UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > October 2001 Search

    Edited by David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu
    Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
    Last revised: Thu Oct 25 11:18:36 MDT 2001