At the A-3 Assembly on February 27, over 100 members met with EVP John Fry and HR Vice President H. Clint Davidson to discuss proposed changes in benefits for faculty and staff. Mr. Davidson and his staff answered questions (below) sent forward on file cards. Answers here were greatly condensed from notes, then reviewed by Human Resources for accuracy. --K.C.G./M.L.S.
Q & A on Proposed Changes in Benefits
- Please provide greater detail about how the new prescription coverage will work.
- Detailed information is being furnished in the Open Enrollment packets scheduled to be in the mail by the first week in April. (Open Enrollment is April 21-30.)
- Under the Keystone HMO, when you say "prescription,"does this include prescription eyeglasses, or is only the exam covered?
- After a $5 copay, eye exams are covered and $35 is allowed toward glasses under all the HMO plans, Keystone, U.S. Healthcare, and HIP. There is a discount at the Scheie Eye Institute (a Penn ophthalmology unit housed at the PennMed/Presbyterian site).
- Why are you doing away with Blue Cross Comprehensive when people want this?
- Features of BCC have been incorporated into PENNCare and POS options.
- Penn is terminating QualMed due to service, but PENNCare is not really that great as far as service to the Penn staff. The in-network doctors are primarily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 9 a.m to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, which are the working hours of the employees. So why should we pay $40 ($104 family) and take the time off (sick time) to use PENNCare?
- This is the basis for providing a range of options including the lower-cost HMOs.
- Will it be possible to have all HMOs make referrals to specialists at Penn and HUP?
- This possibility already exists, but as an out-of-service option that entails cost to subscribers.
- When you retire are you still eligible for health coverage?
- Yes, retirees who meet age and service requirements are eligible for coverage. Effective July 1, 1996 retirees contribute toward their medical insurance just as do active employees.
- If we don't pay into the pension plan, will we still get our pensions?
- Yes. There is no requirement for contribution in the A-3 retirement plan.
- Why can't the graduate tuition remission benefit for dependents be grandfathered?
- This question paralleled those at the PPSA meeting on February 17, where the answer was that the benefit is partially grandfathered, in that admissions are open until September 1, 1998, and that students have until
2002 to finish.
- What is meant by "tuition benefit should be available [only] to employees whose salary is subject to the University employee benefits rate"?
- Though physically on campus, some organizations (ROTC and others) are not part of the University in terms of payroll or benefits. This clarifies that tuition remission will not be provided at University expense for their employees.
- What are "special qualifying courses?" How many courses are required and is there an assurance that if you maintain a good GPA you'll be automatically accepted into one of these schools?
- The actual courses will be spelled out in material to be sent out shortly in cooperation with the College of General Studies.
- Admission remains the province of each school or college of the University, but the purpose of creating special qualifying courses is that employees who do not presently meet requirements for admission to established academic programs at Penn may take these special courses to enhance their qualifications for admission.
- Reclassification of positions is said to be complete in June. How will these changes coincide with Open Enrollment's being over in April? How will benefit adjustments occur?
- There is no direct relationship between the reclassification study and the redesign of benefits. Open enrollment involves the selection of options within the benefits package as finally determined, and the employee's choices of health plans, etc., will be reflected in coverage starting July 1, 1997.
- A card presented not as a question but as a statement said:
We would like to keep our summer hours! We work hard and we deserve it!
Other questions asked:
- Please clarify what you mean by "reduced summer hours should be eliminated."
- "Reduced summer hours" refers to the program in which some offices of the University close at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. during July and August. [Ed. Note: An annual memorandum specifies the numerous fine points of this program; see Almanac May 14, 1996, for the 1996 memorandum.]
- Who proposed that summer hours be eliminated and why? Why not work 4 full days and be off on Fridays to save on electric bills?
- Are summer hours eliminated as of July 1, 1997 or, considering our valid dispute, will they be reinstated?
- The Benefits Advisory Committee made the recommendation to eliminate the program (Almanac Supplement February 11), citing its reasons on page S-8 of that report.
- The President and Provost are expected to give their decisions on this and other recommendations later in March.
Ed. Note: The email address for the Benefits Advisory Committee is
Volume 43 Number 25
March 11, 1997
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