All members should be aware that our Healthcare Open Enrollment period is occurring now and will remain open through the month end of September.
This is your (only) opportunity to change your healthcare plan until July 2021 (with the exception of life changes like birth of a child, etc). Also remember, if you were recently divorced or your kids "aged" out of the healthcare plan, make sure you remove them as dependents to your plan.
This year is very different than it has been in years past. First, open enrollment is usually in May but was moved to September this year (you know, b/c of COVID). Second, we only have one choice of provider: Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. This is a big change. Although Anthem BC/BS has always been an option, there have always been alternative options (ECHC, Connecticare, Oxford, etc). While most people associate Anthem BC/BS as a trusted, reliable insurer for the State, they have typically been the more expensive provider. The last major change: rate adjustments (which typically occur in July) were moved to October. These changes usually end up costing members a few dollars extra per paycheck - this year those rate adjustments will be spread across 9 months rather than 12 months, so there will be a slightly larger increase (for a shorter time) than normal...what else would you expect from 2020 but more craziness?
The state employee unions created a joint Q&A to explain the switch to Anthem as the sole healthcare provider (retirees will still utilize UnitedHealthcare's Medicare Advantage plan, only those who are not Medicare-enrolled will now solely utilize Anthem). The network of doctors for United/Oxford and Anthem is largely the same, of course there are a few exceptions, but very few. So the transition from United to Anthem should not have a material impact in most circumstances. The main difference between the two providers is the cost...and there is a big cost difference. That cost difference was going to end. The reason United/Oxford was dropped was because their costing was not competitive this time around. While their previous bid was phenomenal (and low) resulting in them being added as an option, this time their bid was not comparable to Anthems in cost for the scope of coverage we required, and the Healthcare Cost Containment Committee (a labor management committee) did not feel it was an acceptable bid. Members should understand that while we may be seeing a huge increase from United/Oxford to Anthem, United/Oxford wasn't going to be available cheaply anymore, as the days of cost-efficient UnitedHealthcare plans was about to end anyway if we maintained United/Oxford as an option.
Part of what kept UnitedHealthcare cheaper than Anthem was something called "adverse selection", it is not a planned phenomenon, it is something that unintentionally occurs. As a cheaper plan, typically, younger, healthier employees chose United/Oxford; as a result, the cost of administering the plan was cheaper than it was to administer the Anthem plan. This led to a furthering of the price gap between the two plans…but again, UnitedHealthcare did not submit a competitive plan meeting our requirements this year, so that cost gap was going to disappear even if we retained United/Oxford.
Recognizing that those on the United/Oxford plan were going to have pay more (a significant amount more), the Healthcare Cost Containment Committee requested that Anthem muster up a lower-cost option for those who can’t absorb the cost increase. The result is Anthem Prime Plus POS. The difference between Anthem Prime and the other Anthem plans is that Anthem Prime has a much narrower network of doctors. So for those looking to contain costs and minimize the increase, Anthem Prime is an option. However interested members should be cautions and check to ensure that their doctor participates in the lower cost Anthem Prime. If you don’t have any preference for specific doctor’s and are looking for a cheaper option, Anthem Prime may be a good fit. Please be aware of one of the drawbacks though: Hartford Healthcare Group (a large service provider in the Hartford area) has NOT signed onto this plan.
Some of the documents to assist in making your healthcare selection: