Oct. 1, 2009

Rates will not change for endowed health plan premiums

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Endowed health plan rates for 2010 will remain the same as last year's by adjusting some co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, Cornell's Division of Human Resources has announced.

"We are very pleased that we were able to avoid premium increases for the upcoming year," said Mary Opperman, vice president for human resources. "We took advantage of Cornell's historically low cost-trend, which is now below the national average, and made some adjustments in other areas to reach the goal of no increase in premiums at a particularly challenging financial time for many in our workforce."

Paul Bursic, director of Benefit Services, said, "We last adjusted copayments and deductibles on Jan. 1, 2006. But even with these increases, our endowed health plans compare very favorably with the contract college benefits and those of other plans regionally."

The copayment in the endowed plans, now $12 for visits to a primary-care or a specialist provider, will rise to $15 next year for both levels of service.

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"Our level of generic drug usage is very impressive. We give lots of credit to our participants for demanding generics and to the local medical community for favoring generics in their recommendations," said Bursic. "Cornell is just above the national average in generic utilization, with over 60 percent of the prescriptions written in the generic category. So we will continue to offer generic medicines in 2010 at the same copay as were offered this year to encourage even more use of these economical and effective alternatives."Prescription drug copayments will also be adjusted.

Deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, however, will go up, reflecting inflationary pressures since 2006.

Providing even greater incentive to pursue a healthy lifestyle, the Cornell Program for Healthy Living will experience the fewest increases, with higher rates only in out-of-network maximums. All other plans -- HealthNow, Aetna PPO and Aetna 80/20 Plan -- will see increases in both in- and out-of-network deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums (see http://www.ohr.cornell.edu/benefits/openEnrollmentEndowed.html.

"We continue to have very comprehensive plans at reasonable costs," added Opperman. "Our faculty and staff and their families have very strong support in wellness programming, and our health plans are part of total compensation plan that is aimed to encourage good health and protect family financial security."