Western chooses BlueCross BlueShield over Aetna

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Full-time employees and staff at Missouri Western are about to see a change in their health insurance.

Missouri Western State University has decided to do business this coming year with BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas City over Aetna, Western’s current healthcare provider.

Western contracts are traditionally three years, but if they see a bid that they just can’t refuse, that would be benefit the employees and the University, then they will consider changes.

According to the Director of Human Resources Sally Sanders, Western is not obligated to a three-year contract.

“We only go out for bids every three years; we don’t get three-year agreements on rates,” Sanders said. “Medical health insurance rates are renewed annually. That’s an industry standard.”

According to Benefits Coordinator Misty Miller, the switch from Aetna to BlueCross was merely because they offered a better plan.

“We chose to go back to BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas City because they offered us a much lower percent of increase for our employees and the university,” Miller said. “They offered a rate cap until 2013, which is a very rare opportunity for a large group like Missouri Western.”

With costs of running the university rising annually, it is comforting to know at least one cost will be stable.

“The rate cap that BlueCross BlueShield offers is very rare, but going into 2013 with a safety net was comforting,” Sanders said. “We have high claims, and we know that we have issues with employees, which we felt we could not pass up.”

Mel Klinkner, vice president of financial planning and administration, agrees.

“The 13 percent cap, that Aetna didn’t offer, gives us some security,” Klinkner said. “If we had bad claims, then we won’t have to pay any more than 13 percent plus those taxes.”

According to Klinkner, there were no penalties for early contract cancellation from Aetna toward the university.

“We had 31 days to give them written notice, and they have been in the loop and know what’s going on,” Klinker said. “So just for financial reasons, that’s why we chose BlueCross.”

According to Klinker, employees will pay more than they did last year for health insurance.

“It’s going to affect employees because whatever they paid last year,” Klinker said, “it’s going to be 15.69 percent more, so every plan will cost that, except our base plan.”

Sanders states that the university still pays 100 percent of the premiums for an employee’s base plan. Adding a spouse to the plan has always been an out of pocket expense, but these rates have increased under BlueCross.

“The base plan is where the employees will see no change,” Sanders said. “But if employees want a richer plan, or buy up plan, than that’s all on the employee.”

According to Klinker there is no real benefit for Aetna losing business with Missouri Western.

“Only in the sense that they don’t have to pay the claims, and they lost money based on what they had to do,” Klinker said. “Aetna has to pay out the rest of 2011; Blue Cross doesn’t have to until 2012. There is no advantage, and I would have loved to stay with them.”

The new healthcare plan is cheaper for  Western.

“Going with BlueCross we save nearly a quarter of a million dollars, and with the 13 percent cap that Aetna didn’t offer, we couldn’t refuse,” Klinker said.

Before the switch to BlueCross, Missouri Western had a $30,000 Wellness fund. Under the new plan, according to Miller, Western will have a $20,000 Wellness fund.

“This wellness fund is for programming- and wellness-related expenses,” Miller said. “The fund will also carry over its balance year to year, so we will be able to plan and project projects and expenses better.”

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