University’s actions speak louder than words

The University is not interested in passing full relief on to U Plan consumers.

This summer, when the University revised projected costs for employees’ health care in 2005, the new numbers suggested the U Plan would cost approximately $6 million less than they had estimated, and budgeted, a year earlier. This gave administrators a choice. They could keep the money earmarked for health care in the central administration’s general fund. Or, they could cancel a scheduled change in the premium ratio charged to employees with dependents, and spare those employees a premium increase of more than $40.00 a month.

The University chose to tinker slightly with premium increases. Employees will all lose more money from their pockets for health care next year – just not quite as much as had originally been predicted. The rest of the savings will stay in the general fund  along with the interest income earned off of collected premiums and the more than $12 million in U Plan reserves. Those reserves are accumulated from premium dollars, so the interest income is a way for the University to make money from its employees’ health-care plan.  

Dann Chapman wrote in his Sept. 16th commentary, “Heath-care benefits a true partnership” that it is good news when health-care costs go down in the U Plan because then more money can be spent on teaching and research at the University.   Employees endured a yearlong wage freeze and increased health-care costs (in both premiums and co-pays) because the story was that only a limited amount of money was available for the staff.  Now we find out that they don’t need as much money for benefits as they thought they did, but they still aren’t interested in passing the full relief on to U Plan consumers.

At an income level of $348,000 a year for University President Bob Bruininks, or even with the more than $90,000 a year Chapman makes, it might not be a big deal to dish out an extra $40.00 a month out of their paychecks to help out the University’s general fund, but at my level it hurts. It’s not too late to cancel the 5 percent extra premium shift to people with family coverage.

Chapman wrote that the U Plan is a partnership between the University and its employees. Actions speak louder than words.

Candace Lund is a University employee and president of AFSCME Local 3937. Please send comments to [email protected]