New Changes to UFT Member Health Plan. Thoughts?

healthcare

UFT members should have received an email from the UFT Welfare Fund about changes to our healthcare plan. If not, make sure you are registered with UFT email subscription here. After reading and analyzing the email, UFT Solidarity would like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Dear        ,

I am writing to inform you about coming changes to the city health care plans negotiated by the city and the Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group of municipal labor unions of which the UFT is a member.  These changes affect our in-service members and our retirees who are non-Medicare eligible. As part of our last collective-bargaining agreement, we agreed to achieve health care savings.  By collaboratively working with the city, we have been able to preserve access to quality health care while meeting our savings obligation.

We are proud that public school educators and all other New York City municipal employees have access to health coverage without an annual premium. That will continue. When the changes take effect in the next several months, certain GHI and HIP copays will be adjusted.  Some will increase, but we also made certain to eliminate other copays to make low or no-cost options available for many health care services.

GHI subscribers currently pay $15 when they visit their primary care physician, the most utilized service in the plan. That copay will not change. Members using physicians at the Advantage Care Physician (ACP) offices will have no copay.  There will, however, be copay increases to see specialists and receive various diagnostic tests from other providers in the GHI network.

Members seeking to keep their health care costs down should consider visiting one of the 36 Advantage Care Physician (ACP) centers created by EmblemHealth in New York City and in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Members who receive care, including urgent care, at one of these sites will have no copays for their treatment, including high-tech radiology. Bronx-based members will have access to ACP-affiliated physicians at various Bronx locations to be announced.  We will also be working on extending this coverage north to Westchester, Rockland and other counties.

GHI subscribers will no longer have any copays for preventive health care. All preventive health services — including prescriptions for birth control, immunizations, mammography, prenatal vitamins and colonoscopies — will soon be available to GHI subscribers free of cost. Members will receive more information from EmblemHealth in the next few months.

One of the most expensive forms of care is hospital-based emergency room visits, which should only be used in a genuine emergency. The cost to the health plan for a visit to the ER is several times that of a visit to a doctor’s office. Our data show that some members are over-utilizing hospital emergency rooms. To discourage the use of ERs when a doctor’s visit would suffice, the copay for hospital-based emergency-room visits will increase from $50 to $150.  Please be aware that you can see a doctor at short notice at one of EmblemHealth’s Advantage Care Physician offices with no copay or at a participating Urgent Care facility with a $50 copay.

As part of our Wellness programs, we will also be introducing telemedicine, which will allow members immediate access to an Internet-based physician who can guide their care and even provide a prescription if necessary.  All members in a New York City health plan will also be able to join Weight Watchers at a substantial discount.

HIP subscribers will also see changes to their health plan. HIP is introducing a new plan called HIP Preferred. HIP subscribers can continue to use their HIP doctor with no copay if he or she is in the HIP Preferred network. HIP subscribers will now have a $10 copay if their doctor is not in the HIP Preferred network.

The chart below lists the GHI changes that will take effect in the coming months:

 
GHI – CBP Benefits Current Copay New Copay
PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN – PCP (PARTICIPATING GHI DOCTOR) $15 $15
ADVANTAGE CARE PHYSICIAN – ACP GENERALIST (PCP) $15 No copay
ADVANTAGE CARE PHYSICIAN – ACP SPECIALIST $20 No copay
NON-ADVANTAGE CARE PHYSICIAN SURGICAL SPECIALIST $20 $30
ALL OTHER SPECIALISTS $20 $30
EMERGENCY ROOM $50 $150
URGENT CARE FACILITY $15 $50
MRI/CT (HI-TECH RADIOLOGY) $15 $50
DIAGNOSTIC LAB (BLOOD, XRAY ETC.) $15 $20
PHYSICAL THERAPY $15 $20
ALL PREVENTIVE SERVICES INCLUDING IMMUNIZATIONS, MAMMOGRAPHY, COLONOSCOPY AND PRESCRIPTIONS FOR CONTRACEPTION No copay

The following chart shows the changes affecting HIP subscribers:

 
HIP Benefits Current Copay New Copay
HIP Preferred Network (new) No copay No copay
HIP Non-Preferred Physician No copay $10

Here are a few helpful links:

We will be sharing more information in the New York Teacher and on the UFT website in an effort to answer any questions you might have and prepare you for the various changes.

Fraternally,

Arthur Pepper
UFT Welfare Fund Executive Director

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5 Comments

  1. What cost difference can we see in the hospital visit for a birth?

  2. Would like to see coverage included for breast pumps, as mandated for other insurance plans under Obamacare. GHI gets out of it because they are grandfathered. Teachers are in the business of rearing children. Pilots get free flights, chefs get free meals, teachers should be covered for breast pumps.

  3. I am concerned about the increased cost of the urgent center care. Having small children that do not always get sick during regular office hours parents rely on urgent care centers. This month alone have been to urgent care 3 times. Also, there are not enough Advantage Doctors that participate, therefore I am concerned about quality of care.

  4. Joanne dimartino

    I keep reading about an association with Weight Watchers. Neither the UFT or WEIGHT WATCHERS have any information.

  5. The bottom line is that GHI pays providers the lowest of any major health insurance. Significantly lower. I recently found out that I needed shoulder surgery. Out of 20 top shoulder surgeons, only one took GHI. Note that for physical therapy it is the same. It is flat out impossible to get really good PT with GHI. I know, I’m a physical therapist. An example: I was told at the outset of a job in an outpatient clinic that all patients get 30 minutes for an initial evaluation, except GHI patients who get 15 minutes. GHI patients also cannot get some of the more sophisticated modalities, like smart patches for iontophoresis. (Incidentally, the next lowest payer is BCBS – except the Federal BCBS policy which is somewhat more competitive.) We need better health insurance.

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