The annual open enrollment period for Iowa State faculty health plans started Nov. 2 and continues until Nov. 20. This open enrollment period is different from past ones because for the first time since 2014, rates are increasing.
On Oct. 7, the university announced the health care plan for employees would increase to accommodate for the rising cost of national health care.
“Even with the new premium rates for employees, in most cases Iowa State University will pay more than 80% of the overall health care costs for employees,” wrote President Wendy Wintersteen, Pam Cain, senior vice president for operations and finance, and Kristi Darr, vice president of university human resources in an email.
Tier coverage is going up in 2021 compared to 2020. Employees who choose the Wellmark Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan are looking at paying $20 more if they claim either themselves, themselves with a spouse/partner or themselves with their children as dependents.
Employees who claim themselves and their family as dependents will pay $25 more in 2021, and families with both spouses working for the university will pay $60 more with this plan.
Under the Wellmark PPO Plan, deductibles increase $100 for single plans and $200 for families covered by the Wellmark PPO out-of-network benefits. The out-of-pocket maximum for medical visits in this plan in its in-network format is $500 for singles and $1,000 for families. The out-of-pocket maximum for the out-of-network plan format is a $1,000 increase for singles and a $2,000 increase for families.
The Wellmark Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Plan is also seeing increases. Single dependents will have a $20 increase. Employees with a partner, employees with their children and employees with their families will have a $25 increase. Families with two university employees will see a $60 increase. There was no deductible for this plan in 2020 and there will not be one in 2021.
The Wellmark HMO Plan has no change in out-of-pocket expenses for medical visits but the out of pocket for prescriptions has increased $500 for singles and $1,000 for families.
Both the Wellmark PPO Plan and the Wellmark HMO Plan are facing increases in copays for office visits, outpatient care and emergency room visits. There is also an increase in prescription drug copays. For information see the 2021 Medical Plan Design Changes document.
“Nationally, health care costs continue to rise for a number of reasons, such as increasing costs of medical services, pharmaceuticals, population aging, disease, etc. Iowa is not immune to these national cost increases,” Cain said.
Cain said the decision to make increases in the health care plans was aided by the University Benefits Committee. They held a town hall meeting and communicated with employees to ensure all questions were answered. She said the Division of Operations and Finance had very little questioning from employees.
Though changes have not been made at Iowa State in seven years, changes in health care coverage are expected to change in the future.
The changes in benefit plans will take effect Jan. 1, 2021. To learn more about the open enrollment period and the changes in health care plans, contact the Office of Human Resources or the Division of Operations and Finance.