May 15, 2018
I am writing to let you know of changes to the University’s benefits providers beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Pending approval of the Board of Regents at its June 28 meeting, our health insurance carrier will change from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska to UMR (a United Healthcare company), and our dental insurance carrier will change from Blue Cross to Ameritas. CVS Health will continue to provide our pharmacy insurance.
The changes follow a comprehensive review of our benefits plan that was among the strategies we announced last fall as part of the Budget Response Team process. Under the leadership of a 15-member, University-wide committee representing faculty, staff and administration, we carefully examined our plan, our vendors and opportunities for cost savings. We conducted a competitive Request for Proposals that included bids from multiple vendors. Our goal throughout our review was to make certain we had a benefits plan that’s both competitive and cost-effective for employees and their families.
Our insurance providers going forward were unanimously recommended by the benefits committee, and supported by the president and chancellors, for both financial and non-financial reasons. The dollar savings will be significant: an estimated $12.3 million, including $6 million in state-aided savings. These savings are one reason that employee health and dental insurance premiums will not go up in 2019. Equally as important, the providers were chosen by the committee based on factors like excellence in customer care, proximity of network providers, and timeliness of claims processing.
Of course, we know any change of this nature, particularly one related to health care for you and your family, will raise questions. We want you to know that we expect minimal disruption. While we do not foresee major changes to our benefits plan design, any enhancements would first be vetted by the same University-wide committee that recommended our new providers. We will communicate any enhancements to you in advance of NUFlex enrollment which begins in October.
With regard to providers, about 96% of health providers used by University employees and their families last year were in the UMR (United) network. Among the dental providers used by employees and their families, two-thirds were in the Ameritas network – the same share that were in the Blue Cross network. Still, in order to minimize the chances of any employee having to find a new doctor or dentist, United and Ameritas will consider adding providers to their networks. United and Ameritas will also help employees find new providers if necessary.
I want to thank our benefits committee for their work throughout this important process. I am pleased that we will continue to offer a competitive benefits plan at a time when the health industry is changing rapidly. We’ll soon have a United Healthcare customer service number dedicated to the University of Nebraska; in the meantime, please feel free to contact your campus benefits office with questions or to call your provider to ask if they’re in the United network.
Thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska,
Associate Vice President for Human Resources, University of Nebraska
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.