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UNM panel proposes increase in health costs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A University of New Mexico regents subcommittee approved a plan Tuesday that would change health benefits and raise health care costs for the roughly 6,000 current and former employees being provided coverage.

Dorothy Anderson, the vice president of human resources for UNM, introduced the plan on Tuesday morning at a meeting of three regents who make up the finance subcommittee.

“I don’t think it’s going to be well received,” Anderson said of the plan that would increase individual health care costs for current UNM employees on average about 4.5 percent.

A previous plan called for a 6.4 percent increase, according to a prior presentation to the finance subcommittee.

Administrators would increase in-network, out-of-pocket maximums to $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for families. That’s up from the current rate of $2,250 for individuals and $4,500 for families. This affects about 10 percent of the plan holders, Anderson said.

Administrators would also have employees pay 25 percent of the cost of branded prescription drugs on a sliding scale. Currently, there’s a flat $35 fee for preferred brand prescriptions and a $55 fee for non-preferred brands. For preferred brands, the sliding scale will run from $35 to $70 and from $55 to $110 for non-preferred brands.

Currently, employees on the plan pay twice the cost of a 30-day prescription supply for a 90-day supply. Under the new plan, they would pay two-and-a-half times the cost of a 30-day prescription supply for a 90-day supply.

Diabetes prescriptions will be charged at the regular co-pay rate instead of being free.

In total, these proposed changes would save the university about $828,000, according to data provided by UNM.

Anderson said most people employed with the university use Blue Cross Blue Shield, although UNM also offers health care through Presbyterian and UNM Health.

On the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, a single person making $35,000 to $49,999 pays $133.50 monthly for health benefits. The family rate for the same income bracket is $389 monthly.

Under the proposed plan, the single employee rate would rise about $6 a month and the family rate would rise about $17.50, based on the university’s average 4.5 percent figure. Anderson said the exact figure could vary depending on the health provider.

The university and plan members will still spend roughly $3 million, or roughly 4.5 percent, more on health care compared with last year, said Anderson. That brings the cost from roughly $67.5 million to about $70.6 million.

The measure passed unanimously.

The plan also calls for waiting until fiscal year 2018 to increase the contribution percentage for a voluntary program that provides health care benefits for retirees. Currently, employees who opt into the program, called the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, contributed three-quarters of a percent of their paycheck to the program and UNM matched their contribution. Starting in fiscal year 2018, they’ll contribute 1 percent of their paycheck under the new plan Anderson said.

And Anderson said UNM could discontinue contributions to a long-term care program for a saving of roughly $560,000.

If approved by the full board of regents, which will consider the change at a meeting Monday, the new health plan would go into effect July 1.