Health care troubles? Help is just a phone call away
UCOP extends and expands popular health care facilitator pilot program

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs


Deborah Lloyd

Berkeley Health Care Facilitator Deborah Lloyd. Jane Scherr photo.

30 AUGUST 00 | Late last spring, when contract negotiations between the HMO Prudential Aetna and medical-group owner Sutter Health Systems were at an impasse, more than 300 distraught campus employees and retirees turned to the same person for advice and information - Berkeley Health Care Facilitator Deborah Lloyd.

With contract negotiations at a standstill, UC Care members were informed that they would have to find new physicians within a few short weeks.

"There was a kind of panic," Lloyd recalls. "One woman called me from the hospital bed, saying 'what am I going to do? I got this letter; I have 30 days to get a new doctor, and I just had surgery.'"

As "frontline contact" between employees and retirees and their health care providers, and between campus and Office of the President, Lloyd was able to communicate directly with the president's office to share and get information, and to broadcast updates to concerned employees until a new contract was secured.

Begun on a trial basis a year ago, the Health Care Facilitator Pilot Program has proven so successful that the university has decided to fund it for a second year at Berkeley and Irvine, and to offer it at Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz as well.

"Having the health care facilitator on site provides a very clear channel for information on the health care providers," notes Lubbe Levin, UC assistant vice president for policy, planning and research on human resources and benefits concerns. "We have people on the staff here in the benefits office who already handle complaints or problems that occur," she says, "but this way we have more data than we have had in the past."

At one point this year, Lloyd began receiving complaints from people having trouble with a new mail-order pharmacy provided through one of the plans.

"I got a ton of calls on that," says Lloyd, "and could immediately call Office of the President. People called me all in a state. I could reassure them that OP was working on it. It wasn't empty rhetoric; that program is no longer with us."

Since taking her post as campus health care facilitator last fall, Lloyd has handled more than 1,200 cases. A few involved situations that affected many; most were individual issues that Lloyd helped resolve within a day or two by offering guidance or intervening on behalf of the member. UC health benefits "are among the best that employers offer," said Lloyd. "I know because I talk to HMO reps, who know what other employers offer."

"It's fun and rewarding to help people with individual problems," she said. "But I also like to sit back and put things together - to spot trends and areas that a lot of people are having trouble with. And then to work with OP on it."

During the Prudential/Sutter crisis, she said, benefits managers systemwide were meeting at Office of the President. OP "called the Prudential managers in," she recalls. They had to get up and explain themselves "in front of that very unhappy crowd."

For help with a medical plan issue, contact Deborah Lloyd or 643-7547.





Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail