Friday, August 6, 2010

Interesting letter from Duke

Got an interesting letter from Duke yesterday. It said that my dependents covered on my health insurance (my wife and 3 kids) could be dropped from my health insurance plan unless I proved they were legitimately my dependents. Follow up email text from HR person in public policy last night....

To all faculty and staff that are using the Duke insurance. If you have this, you might receive a letter from XXXXXXXX, Health Plan Manager at Duke. This letter is legitimate as I called Human Resources to confirm.

Duke is conducting this audit to make sure the dependents on employee health plans are actually eligible to receive benefits. Therefore, in order to verify if they are eligible, they are asking for your dependent’s social security number and date of birth. They are doing this for two reasons. One is to ensure the benefits Duke pays out is actually legitimate. The second reason is that Health Reform is coming soon and this will be required and Duke is being pro-active in doing this beforehand.

The date on the letter states you are to return this information back to HR by August 16, 2010. They have extended this date to September 30, 2010. There was never any communication that was sent to employees regarding this and this letter came from a different department than from Human Resources.

Here is the web site that explains a little about it.

From 2014 and on, a person that is offered a health insurance plan through an employer larger than 50 people cannot decline said offer and go into the exchange and purchase insurance unless the insurance offer (from employer) is higher than the affordability standard. That is the most direct way I can see this info being used.....and I believe that beginning in 2011, the value of premiums paid on behalf of employees by employers will be reported on W-2, though not taxed (though they should be, but that is another story).

Also, I have 'heard' that Duke has been worried that some employees had folks on as dependents who actually were not nephews, etc. This is not an issue related to same sex couples as Duke has long had quite expansive 'spousal equivalent' benefits.

Update: apparently, employees going nuts about the audit. In classic fashion, one colleague who is known to hyperventilate about the need to control health care costs, is mad about the audit and even said 'it is none of their business' you know, because the benefit fairy brings health insurance, right? Sigh. See below for boring letter from a job I wouldn't want (VP for HR at Duke)

FROM: XXX XXXXXX, Vice President, Human Resources

RE: Clarification on audit of health plans

During the past six months, as part of the ongoing effort to manage the cost associated with our health care plan, eligibility audits have been initiated. Such audits have become a standard management practice and are underway at the majority of our peer institutions.

Faculty and staff with children covered by one of our health plans recently received a letter about the next phase of this audit with a deadline for response by August 16. Unfortunately, the distribution of the letter by our vendor was delayed by two weeks, which created an unrealistic deadline for response.

The deadline for return of the Dependent Eligibility Certification form has been extended until September 30 to ensure a 30-day period for response, consistent with previous phases of the audit. Additional documentation (birth certificate, tax return, etc.) is not required to be submitted with the form, but it may be required later by request.

The form also requests the submission of Social Security numbers for spouses/partners and children. Collection of this information is in anticipation of requirements for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known more commonly as national healthcare reform. As with other confidential personnel information maintained by Human Resources, the collection of Social Security numbers is being handled with all appropriate security safeguards.

As referenced in last year’s open enrollment guide, the audit will help ensure that Duke is providing coverage only for eligible individuals. Covering those who are not eligible increases the cost of our health plan, which results in higher premiums and co-payments for health insurance.

Please share this information as appropriate with faculty and staff in your areas who may have questions. Thank you.

Basically, everyone wants to spend less on health care.....they just don't want anything to change. I have been calling this a culture of delusion.

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