The University Record, July 21, 1997

Free M-CARE coverage proposed for U-M faculty and staff

The M-CARE preference initiatives, a new health insurance program designed to enhance the economic viability of the U-M Health System, is being proposed for 1998.

Under the proposal, active faculty and staff will have the opportunity to receive free health insurance from the M-CARE HMO. The proposal calls for no cost for health insurance for single, two-person or family coverage, beginning Jan. 1, 1998.

For example, a faculty or staff member currently pays $652 per year for M-CARE HMO coverage for three or more persons. Under the proposed initiative, the same individual will receive M-CARE HMO coverage at no cost in 1998.

There may be a cost to faculty and staff members who select any level of coverage under all other health insurance providers. Other coverage offered includes Comprehensive Major Medical, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan/United of Omaha, Care Choices Health Plan, Health Alliance Plan, Health Plus of Michigan and M-CARE Point of Service.

Under the M-CARE Preference Initiative, the following would be the University contribution (UC) and the employee contribution (EC) to the cost of health insurance:

Current and proposed rate changes for all health care providers are available on the Benefits Office Web site at http://www.umich.edu/~benefits/.

The M-CARE HMO is a subsidiary of the U-M Health System. All UMHS physicians are M-CARE HMO providers. When U-M faculty and staff who are enrolled in the M-CARE HMO seek medical care from the Health System, they support the University in a tangible way by keeping their health care dollars inside the U-M community.

In addition, there are a substantial number of community physicians in the M-CARE network in Washtenaw County and southeast Michigan. Much like a manufacturer offering discounts to its employees on products, the University is providing its own health plan at no cost to its faculty and staff.

Increased M-CARE HMO enrollment, as a result of the initiative, is expected to generate about $4 million for the Health System.

More than 10,900 faculty and staff currently are enrolled in the M-CARE HMO. Another 4,200 are enrolled in the M-CARE Point of Service plan. About 23,500 faculty and staff are eligible for health care benefits.

The M-CARE Preference Initiative will be available to all active faculty and staff. Retirees, and survivors of retirees, will not be affected by the initiative. GradCare also will not be affected.

To allow input from the campus community prior to making a final decision about the initiative, the Board of Regents is seeking written comments from faculty and staff.

They are encouraged to contact the Regents via e-mail at public.comments@umich.edu. Comments also may be submitted in writing to Roberta R. Palmer, secretary of the university, 2012 Fleming Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340. Comments may be faxed to 763-8011.

The Regents will vote on the issue at a special public meeting, via conference call, in early August. No date has been set.