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Health cost rise likely for UNM employees

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico employees – and especially early retirees – should brace for an increase in their health insurance costs.

Regents on the school’s Finance and Facilities Committee learned Wednesday that the costs of employee health plans will more than likely rise after July 1, 2016, but by how much depends on the insured’s status.

“We are hoping to keep it at 11 percent or below,” Eric Weinstein, insurance consultant for Aon Risk Solutions, told the committee.

But people who retired before they reached age 65 are predicted to face a 22 percent increase in their monthly plan cost. For some, that could mean a more than $100 monthly increase.

That group at the end of the summer was moved from a special, lower-cost plan into the general employee pool, raising their costs but, the university said at the time, lowering the cost to the school. In fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, 2016, people in this group will also have to pay a greater percentage of their monthly premium cost.

Two retirees attending the meeting told Regent Jaime Koch that the increases on top of the increased percentage and the recent move to a more expensive insurance pool is a violation of the agreements under which the retirees were hired.

About 5,700 UNM employees and about 5,800 of their spouses and dependents are covered by one of UNM’s three insurance plans.

In each plan there are nine tiers of coverage, each offering different percentage contributions from the school of between 30 and 80 percent of the cost.

For part-time employees making less than $34,999 and supplying just their own insurance, the 11 percent means a monthly increase of about $30 to $289 a month. In that plan, the school contributes $172 a month, or 40 percent, and that will also rise with an increase. Full-time employees making the same amount pay only 20 percent of their premium, about $86 a month, with the university carrying 80 percent, at $345.

A full-time employee in the same plan making more than $50,000 and supplying just their own insurance, that increase means a $19 jump to $191 a month. In that plan, the school contributes 60 percent, or $259 a month subject to the 11 percent increase.

Regents and school budget officials repeated that the school faces a serious budget shortage. Enrollment is down and the school’s portion of state taxes are also down with the as the state faces a drop in tax revenue from the decline in gas and oil prices couples with increased costs, primarily in health care expenses.

Also at the meeting, regents decided to examine how to save additional money by exploring outsourcing options and increasing by about $15 the online class fee. The committee also authorized school leaders to put together possible options for implementing a merit-based professor pay plan. These plans will be discussed at today’s full Board of Regents meeting.

This story has been updated to reflect the part-time and full-time health insurance rates paid by the university and employees.