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UUA health plan ends successful first year

Rate increases for 2008 held to 4 percent; open enrollment period ends November 30.
By Donald E. Skinner
11.9.07

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The Unitarian Universalist Association’s health care plan was a resounding success in its first year, exceeding enrollment goals by more than 20 percent, said Jim Sargent, UUA health plan director.

As a result, the plan will provide even more benefits in its second year, plus an open enrollment period. Congregations that want to enroll staff in the plan for 2008, or make changes in their coverage, have until November 30, said Sargent. The plan, the first UUA-sponsored one in eight years, is open to UUA staff, staff of congregations, employees of affiliated groups, and self-employed community ministers. Employees of independent groups that have held independent affiliate status with the UUA in the past may also apply for coverage.

The plan, which began in January 2007, provides coverage to 228 congregations and has reduced by half the number of eligible congregational staff members who did not have health insurance the previous year, said Sargent. There are 620 employees in the plan. Family members bring that number to about 1,000.

There are several significant changes in the plan for next year, Sargent said. One is that employees must work at least 750 hours a year to be eligible. In the first year the requirement was 1,000 hours. Sargent estimated that change will increase the pool of eligible employees by 8 to 10 percent.

Three plans are being offered: a standard plan and two with high deductibles. All the plans are described in detail at UUA.org/leaders/healthplan, including enrollment information and 2008 rates. (See sidebar for links to related resources.)

Several benefits have been added to the plans for 2008. They include an annual routine eye exam with no deductible and adult immunizations with no deductible. The number of outpatient mental health visits increases from 20 to 40 per calendar year. These changes were made at the request of subscribers, Sargent said.

Open enrollment means that all eligible employees who have not enrolled can do so until November 30 without evidence of insurability and without a limitation for pre-existing conditions. Coverage for the second year begins January 1, 2008. Because of the success of the plan, people who are currently in the plan can upgrade their coverage if they wish, moving from a plan with a high deductible, to a standard, low-deductible plan.

Sargent said premiums for the second year will increase by 4 percent, which is favorable when compared to the national average of 10 to 15 percent.

Enrollment may be done online. Staff who are currently enrolled and do not want to make any changes in coverage do not need to do anything. Sargent anticipated the plan will remain strong for a second year. “There are still not a lot of good options for congregations,” he said. “We anticipate adding at least 150 new employees and their family members.”

He said the plan’s success is due in large part to “the excellent choices made by the UUA Finance Committee a year ago. They chose good actuaries and made good decisions on a rate structure. All of their assumptions turned out to be accurate.”

The difference between this plan and the one the UUA offered eight years ago is that this one is self-insured, said Sargent. “We own it and we control all aspects of it.” The previous plan was insured by a commercial insurance company. Since that plan failed there had been no UUA-sponsored health insurance plan available to congregations until the launch of the UUA’s own plan in 2007.


See sidebar for links to related resources.

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