The University Record, October 1, 2001

Choice, quality, cost = medical value

By Vivian Byrd
Benefits Office

As consumers, one of our most important purchases is our medical insurance plan. In the days of rising medical care costs, consumers have come to realize that the true value of medical insurance coverage is based on choice, quality of care, and cost.

Choice

Today, many employers still offer only one medical insurance plan for all employees. The University offers the whole range of medical plans available: ten medical insurance plans that include four HMOs, three traditional plans, and a point-of-service health plan that provides three different options.

Quality

Often, people choose a medical insurance plan by word of mouth or the fact that their current physician is a part of the plan.

The University’s health maintenance organizations (HMO) are evaluated by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, an independent, nonprofit organization that assesses and reports on HMO quality; the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, which measures items such as member satisfaction; and the Greater Detroit Area Health Council. Medical plan ratings take into account how well the plan’s doctors communicate, how easy it is for patients to get the care they need, how well the medical plan helps people avoid illness through preventive care and how well the plan helps people with chronic conditions.

The University’s non-HMO medical plans provide information about important medical care issues such as the number of physicians in the plan, participating hospitals, additional services and financial ratings.

Cost

Anyone who has contemplated purchasing individual medical insurance can attest to the high cost of medical plan coverage. When assessing medical care costs, it is a good idea to look at how much you are paying out of pocket and how much your employer is paying for you. For 2002, the University will increase its contributions to staff and faculty plans by as much as 22.1 percent.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is a time to assess your benefits choices and to make changes if necessary. This year’s Open Enrollment period for benefits changes that will take effect Jan. 1, 2002 runs Oct. 8–19.

More information about the value of your medical insurance plan can be obtained by reviewing the Benefits Office Web site at www.umich.edu/~benefits/ where there are links to the accrediting organizations as well as the medical plans’ Web sites.