Open enrollment in WSU health-care plans for 2008 runs Oct. 1 through the end of November. This is the one time each year that employees can change health plans and/or enroll or drop dependants without prior approval.

Information will be mailed to employees during October about plan options, changes and adjusting coverage online.

Rates for 2008 reflect a reduction in growth from previous years, due to changes approved by the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB), said Gov. Christine Gregoire recently. The cost of providing health care to state employees for 2008 is projected to increase by 3 percent, down from 11 percent in 2005. Savings are due to changing the plans offered and not to reducing benefits, said Steve Hill, administer for the state Health Care Authority.

Rate information for 2008 for employees and dependants can be found on the PEBB website ONLINE @ www.pebb.hca.wa.gov/oe/rates/50-626.shtml.

Changes
• Aetna Public Employees Plan is a new, preferred provider option. It has a similar design as the managed care plans; however, employees will be able to access providers through a larger network, much like the Uniform Medical Plan.

• Community Health Plan (CHP) and Regence BlueShield medical plan will no longer be available. However, Aetna Public Employees Plan contracts with approximately 95 percent of CHP’s and Regence’s Washington providers and will offer contracts to the remaining 5 percent. If employees with CHP and Regence fail to choose a new plan, they will be defaulted to the Uniform Medical Plan.

• The Regence BlueShield Columbia Dental Plan group is now called the Willamette Dental group.

• The Uniform Medical, Group Health Classic and Value, and Aetna Public Employees plans will eliminate the lifetime maximum benefit paid on all medical expenses and also increase the mental health benefit from 20 visits to 50 outpatient visits.

• The annual maximum plan payment for the Uniform Dental Plan will increase to $1,750 and the orthodontia benefit will increase to $1,750 lifetime maximum.

Benefits fair Oct. 30
WSU’s annual employee benefits fair on the Pullman campus will be noon-3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, on the second-floor atrium of French Ad and Lighty. More than 20 vendors will be available to help employees gather information before making plan changes.

The statewide benefits fair schedule can be found ONLINE @ www.pebb.hca.wa.gov. Direct questions about the fair to Human Resource Services, 335-4521.