May 21, 2013

Employees’ Monthly Insurance Payments to Rise

By Monica M. Walk

DRAMATICALLY INCREASED monthly insurance payments may be a dose of bitter medicine for University of Illinois employees trying to watch both their budget and their health.

STILL, STATE of Illinois health plan costs for employees remain below the national average.

ACCORDING TO an Aon Hewitt report, the 2012 national employee-only monthly premium was $183 and is expected to rise to $198 in 2013. Monthly healthcare premiums for all State employees will remain well below that mark, except for employees earning over $100,000 annually; these highest earners will pay premiums in line with the national average. (See the NESSIE website for charts showing FY2014 employee and dependent monthly premiums for both managed care and quality care programs.)

A SERIES of unique issues over the last several years have insulated State employees in Illinois employees from the rising costs of healthcare.

“THE LAST two years, due to contracting issues the State had in procurement of managed care plans, emergency contracts were in place and rates essentially held flat,” said Human Resources Administration Director Katie Ross, University Human Resources. “Now we see the aggregated impact: The new rates reflect what we would have seen incrementally. All at once, it’s hard to swallow.”

THE TOTAL monthly premium increase from July 2007 to July 2012 was only $12 for both plans; they increased $6 per month in Fiscal Year 2009 and again in Fiscal Year 2010, but remained the same in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
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“REALLY, WHAT we are seeing now is primarily what we see nationwide: the rising cost of healthcare,” Ross said.

EMPLOYEE MONTHLY premium rates are determined through State-wide bargaining by the Illinois AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) and extend to all State employees on the State Employee Group Insurance Plan. Monthly premium rates, published May 1, are priced by a series of six salary bands, with employee premiums increasing with salary income. For example, an employee earning up to $30,200 will pay $68 for managed care or $93 for quality care each month; an employee earning between $75,901 and $100,000 will pay $137 for managed care or $162 for quality care each month.

EMPLOYEES CAN also choose to provide health insurance for dependents.  Choices again include managed or quality care, and monthly costs depend on the number of dependents being insured. Employees insuring dependents pay both the employee premium and the dependent premium each month.

THE STATE also pays a portion of health care costs for each employee; generally the amount is considerably larger than the monthly premium paid by employees. The State has not yet published these amounts for the upcoming fiscal year, but Ross expects to receive this information soon.

THE BENEFITS choice period concludes May 31; plan and fee changes are effective July 1.

DEDUCTIBLES, CO-PAYMENTS and out-of-pocket maximums for all healthcare plans also will increase July 1.

“THIS YEAR, more than ever, employees need to read the material from CMS and the Benefit Choice Options booklet,” said Ross. “Especially if they traditionally don’t make a change. They need to look at premium rates, the plan changes, and the “What You Should Know” notes in the Benefits Choice Options booklet. I encourage everyone to look at this information, even if they haven’t in the past.

“SELECTION OF health insurance is a very personal issue,” Ross continued. “CMS has benefit fairs around the city and in the suburbs. The University is putting on employee information sessions on each campus. I encourage employees to attend and make the best decision for themselves and their families.”

FOR DETAILS about employee benefits information sessions see NESSIE:

SEND AN email to or contact UPB Benefits Services at Chicago (312) 996-6471 with additional benefits questions.

UNIVERSITY RETIREES also are experiencing a health-care cost increase. Retirees, or those planning to retire this year, should contact SURS directly.

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