New health care plan will increase costs, benefits

Amanda Garrett

A new health care plan will increase costs for most faculty and staff, but the university officials are saying it will have some additional benefits.

“The new plan gives employees access to more choice,” said Kimberly Hauge, assistant manager of university benefits. “The cost-sharing part of the plan is going to be a big change for employees because in the past, the fact is that everyone didn’t have to contribute to the plan.”

Under the old plan, the majority of faculty and staff did not make any contributions toward health care, said Cheryl Casper, President of the American Association of University Professors, Kent State Chapter.

Under the new plan, all employees will pay a premium based on their income. To view a list of contributions based on salary, visit The physician’s office co-pay also increased from $5 or $10, depending on an employee’s co-pay plan, to $15 for all employees.

The new plan also changes the co-pay for prescription medications from a maximum of 20 percent to 30 percent.

Kent State President Carol Cartwright said the plan serves employees and the university well.

“I understand the concern about the loss of a very attractive health plan,” she said. “It was clear we could not sustain that kind of plan and have any leftover resources to invest in the university itself. I think we achieved that in a way that was fair. It is in our best interest to remain competitive to draw the best people.”

Between Nov. 1. and Nov. 18, all employees must choose from three different plans, which, depending on their price, cover 90, 80 or 70 percent of in-network benefits.

Employees must also choose between two different insurance companies: Medical Mutual and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Kent State chose the two plans because of their wide variety of doctors and hospitals, Hauge said.

“The University Hospital system and the Cleveland Clinic are covered by the two companies,” she said. “We are covering a broad geographic area for our employees.”

Other wellness benefits covered under the new plan include immunization for children and routine physical exams.

“We are encouraging preventing diseases as a more effective way to treat the problem before it occurs,” Hauge said.

Many of the benefits in the new health care plan came from collective bargaining, Casper said. Last summer, the AAUP nearly went on strike because of a cost pass-through provision in the health-care proposal.

The cost pass-through would have put most of the increasing costs of health care on employees, Casper said. After more negotiations, Kent State and the AAUP came up with a good plan.

“Compared to other health-care plans, this one does very well,” Casper said. “If you compare the distributed dollars to other colleges, the amounts are well below the average.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].