The Board authorized Southeast’s administration to contract for related services, including a third-party administrator and stop-loss insurance carrier.
Southeast President Carlos Vargas made the recommendation to the Board after the University carefully evaluated over the past several months options and long-term benefits and risks of continuing as a fully-insured program or transitioning to a self-insured employee health insurance program.
Kathy Mangels, vice president for finance and administration, said the self-insured plan will provide the University more opportunities to impact plan design and meet employee needs, while better controlling costs for both employees and the University.
UMR, a subsidiary of United Healthcare, will serve as the third-party administrator. The University will continue to use the United Healthcare Choice Plus Provider Network, and employees’ Health Savings Accounts will continue with Optum Bank with no interruption, she said.
Southeast hired SONUS Benefits through a competitive Request for Proposals process in August 2018. SONUS has assisted the University over the past year in evaluating and managing the rising cost of employee benefits, particularly health insurance. The University plans to continue the services of SONUS Benefits and a third-party data analytics provider to monitor plan performance and provide expertise in plan design and network negotiations, Mangels said.
Mangels outlined negotiations completed in August with United Healthcare, the University’s current provider of employee health insurance under a fully insured model. For 2020 renewal, employee and dependent premiums, she said, would have risen 22.5 % with no plan changes or 15.2% with plan changes involving a narrow network that would have excluded some local and St. Louis providers.
Continuing with a fully insured plan would have required reallocations in the University’s base budget, increased premiums for employees covering dependents and changes in the current benefit structure such as employee contributions for individual coverage, elimination of cafeteria plan funding and reduced supplements for dependent coverage, Mangels said.