News Flash: Health Care premiums will not go up in 2011!

Well, knock me over with a stethoscope!

My health care premiums aren’t going up in 2011. And, I am not alone. At St. Thomas, the only health care plan with an increase is the high deductible plan, and then it’s only 3 percent.

I don’t know about you, but I have grown to expect an increase in my premiums every year. How did this happen?

Okay, the plan’s coverage is different, but only slightly. People who go to the Mayo Clinic will have to pay a little more out of their own pockets.  (Go to Mayo? That’s in Rochester! I would have to drive!) Also, co-pays for non-generic drugs will increase. (Again, thinking selfishly, this is fine; I take only generics.)

What else? Well, apparently we are healthier. St. Thomas self-insures up to $50,000 per person per year. That means that when we are healthier the university’s budget benefits and we can keep next year’s premiums down.

When I was on the Fringe Benefits Advisory Committee, I learned that almost everyone else in my advanced age group had too much low density (aka, bad cholesterol) and, as we used to say in Arkansas, the high blood. Consequently, they needed expensive drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. I felt so superior about my good blood pressure and fabulous cholesterol numbers that I marched right into my department chair’s office and demanded a raise because I was saving the university so much on medical costs. He reminded me of the time I cost thousands with surgery for my broken foot and sent me on my way.

In case you were wondering about the rationale behind the refundable membership fee for use of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex, this is it – an incentive to maintain a fitness program. Regular exercise keeps us employees healthier and that reduces health care expenses. Of course, being healthier also helps us get to work every day and do a better job while we are here, but right now we are focusing on budget.

For now, I am counting my blessings, filling out my forms right away and heading off to buy chocolate and generic vitamin D with the money I thought I’d have to blow on higher health care premiums.