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Through the years: a look at our medical premiums

As we ready ourselves for open enrollment 2016 – our once-a-year opportunity to pick the right plan for ourselves and our families – it’s a good time to review where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Purdue has done it again. For the third year in a row, our premiums will not increase. This should come as a pleasant surprise as this is a huge feat to accomplish – considering in the world today premiums at other employers are increasing at a rate of 6 to 7 percent a year. Let’s take a look at how we’ve accomplished such a feat.

The process

Beginning in 2014, Purdue contracted with Anthem to administer the three current health plan options offered to faculty, staff, pre-65 retirees and disabled staff. Purdue redesigned its medical plans in 2014 to offer two consumer-driven health plans with health savings accounts – Purdue Health Plan Plus HSA 1 (PHP 1) and Purdue Health Plan Plus HSA 2 (PHP 2) and one traditional preferred provider organization – Purdue Health Plan (PHP). All plans are self-insured with funding provided by the University and its employees and preventive care is covered at 100 percent on all plans, including preventive generic prescriptions.

In 2014 we experienced a large migration of employees to the two consumer-driven health plans, achieving a 73 percent enrollment in the PHP 1 and PHP 2 plans, significantly higher than the 24 percent enrollment in the consumer-driven health plan offered in 2013. Employees’ total health care costs (premium and out-of-pocket) were reduced by 7.7 percent.

 In 2015 Purdue did not increase employee premiums for the second consecutive year. There was a 1 percent increase in migration to consumer-driven health plans during 2015. The continued savings for both Purdue and its employees is apparent in the trends we are seeing in health care costs.

The payoff continues for 2016

Given the better-than-expected performance during the previous two years, Purdue will offer enhanced versions of the same three medical plan options with Anthem next year without changes in deductible or coinsurance. Through the migration to the consumer-driven health plans, as well as a planned focus on various initiatives to help you take full advantage of the resources offered, you will help keep the overall health care costs within budget for 2016, and as such, there will be no employee premium increase and the preventive dental coverage for all Purdue benefits-eligible employees and their dependents on a Purdue health plan will be added. Additional enhancements to the plans for 2016 are outlined in the lead article in this issue. The split in total health care costs between employer and employee will be approximately 70 percent / 30 percent once again.

During 2016, Human Resources will also be working closely with Student Life to assess health care resources on campus. The Healthy Purdue initiative includes reviewing the scope of services at both the Center for Healthy Living (CHL) and Purdue University Student Health (PUSH) and determining if there is potential to integrate and/or share services. Further communications will be shared once a decision has been made. If you have questions in the meantime, please email

Other efforts will continue to focus on educating employees on how consumer-driven health plans work in conjunction with a health savings account (HSA) to further increase the migration to these plans.

"It is with great pride that we’re able to continue to reward employees for their effective and informed decision making as health-care consumers,” said Eva Nodine, director of benefits in Human Resources. "Our faculty and staff have embraced these high-deductible plans in a big way since they were introduced. Most organizations take five–to-six years to see the increase in high-deductible plan enrollment that we experienced in just the first year and continue to experience as we move forward. I'm pleased that we will once again have another year of experience to evaluate. Where we go from here will depend on our claims cost and market trends."

According to Nodine, individuals often become better health care consumers when they're covered by a consumer-driven health plan. "We've seen consistent participation by registered Castlight users, which indicates that Purdue people are looking for high-quality health care at a cost-effective price," she said.

Castlight is a free service for Purdue employees and their covered spouses/same-sex domestic partners and adult children which can help find high-quality care at affordable prices based on location and other search criteria.

Remember, open enrollment begins Monday, Oct. 26 and ends at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 13. A variety of resources, including Castlight, will be available to help you make the best choices for you and your family for 2016. Watch your campus mail for your 2016 open enrollment guide and Purdue Today for upcoming articles containing important information and reminders.

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