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UC takes action to help protect employees against rising health insurance costs

A message to UC Berkeley employees

09 October 2008

With Open Enrollment set to begin on Oct. 30, the UC Office of the President has announced that monthly costs for medical plans will drop or increase only slightly in 2009.

As health insurance costs rise sharply nationwide, the university is adding a one-time $5.2 million contribution to help offset the cost increase and keep employee costs lower. UC will continue to pay 87.5% of the total cost of medical benefits for employees.

In 2009 UC will again base monthly premiums on employee-salary tiers, with lower-paid employees paying less for health insurance each month. For the 42,000 UC employees making $46,000 or less, the university will cover 93-96% of the total cost of their medical plans.

The one-time UC subsidy will mean a decrease in monthly premiums for 36,000 UC employees (including 21,000 lower-paid employees). For example, for the UC Kaiser plan, employees earning less than $46,000 will see a 6.8% reduction for single coverage, and a 17.9 % monthly drop for family coverage.

Like employers nationwide, UC continues to see its medical-insurance costs soar. UC will pay nearly $1 billion in employee health benefits in 2009, an 8.9 % ($91 million) increase over 2008 costs.

While many employers are cutting employee benefits to control rising costs, UC's 2009 benefits package remains unchanged from 2008, including programs for employee wellness, behavioral health, and preventive care that were expanded this year. Most significant for UC employees for 2009:

  • Out-of-pocket costs (such as co-pays and deductibles) will not increase.
  • Dental and vision benefits will continue to be paid fully by UC.
"We recognize how important good health benefits are for our employees and their families, especially our lower-paid employees who are hit hardest by escalating health care costs, and we continue to work very hard to ensure they have access to quality health benefits," said UC President Mark Yudof.

Open Enrollment for UC employees and retirees the annual opportunity to review and make choices in health and welfare benefits begins on Thursday, Oct. 30, and ends at midnight on Tuesday, Nov. 25.

The complete UC employee medical-premium rate chart for 2009 is available online. (For comparison, the list of 2008 premiums is also online.)

Nathan Brostrom
Vice Chancellor Administration

Note: Employee health-insurance rates will be subject to collective bargaining where applicable.