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University to Change Health Care Insurers
September 30, 2010
Switch to UnitedHealthcare will expand national coverage, lower premium increases.
Starting Jan. 1, all employees who receive health care coverage through the university will have a new insurer: UnitedHealthcare.
While GW employees will no longer receive health insurance through CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield or CIGNA, they will not need to change doctors.
The switch was made to give employees access to nationwide coverage, keep employee premium increases to a minimum, and provide better customer service.
GW will also enhance its health care benefit offerings in the new year, including coverage for some infertility treatment and hearing aids and “no co-pay” preventive care.
“The selection of UnitedHealthcare is the result of our effort to continuously improve services and provide additional health and welfare offerings to the employees at GW,” says Louis Lemieux, chief human resources officer. The decision to change insurers came after an intensive review of health care providers that began last winter.
“Enrollment in nationwide network provided by UnitedHealthcare will be automatic for all employees currently participating in GW’s health care plans,” he says. “Employees do not need to fill out any paperwork or submit any forms.”
Employees will be able to continue receiving care from their current in-network physicians; if doctors are not currently part of the UnitedHealthcare network, they will be added to a GW custom network starting Jan. 1. Faculty and staff will also continue to be able to select from PPO, POS or HMO options.
UnitedHealthcare has a nationwide network of providers, which will more easily enable employees to obtain care when traveling or for dependents that live out of the area, says Mr. Lemieux.
With UnitedHealthcare, employees will be able to review the status of claims immediately online and print out a copy of their insurance card on the insurer’s website, myuhc.com. GW’s current insurance providers, CIGNA and CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, don’t have these options.
UnitedHealthcare also has expanded customer service call center hours that will enable GW employees to speak directly with a company representative when they have a question about a benefit or claim.
In addition to the change in insurance provider, GW will expand its coverage of some health care benefits for 2011. The university will pay for infertility treatment up to $30,000. Previously the university only covered costs associated with a diagnosis of infertility. GW will also cover hearing aids.
Opposite sex domestic partners will now be covered through a GW employee’s insurance starting in 2011; the university had only covered same sex domestic partners in the past.
As the result of national health care reform legislation, dependent children will be covered up to age 26 and 100 percent of preventive care will be covered.
Premiums will increase about 4.7 percent on average for 2011. Other universities and local employers have seen premium increases trending closer to 10 percent or more. Co-pays and deductibles will not increase under UnitedHealthcare. The co-pay for mental health care office visits will decrease from $35 per visit to $25.
UnitedHealthcare representatives will be on hand at GW’s Human Resources Benefits Fairs to answer questions. The fairs will be held Oct. 13 and 21 on the Foggy Bottom Campus and Oct. 19 on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus.
Employees can call 888-449-8236 to talk to a GW benefits specialist. Human Resources will also provide face-to-face support through the Faculty and Staff Service Center, located in the first floor of Rice Hall.
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