Positive Changes for Fringe Benefits
This year, Mary Gross, Scott Fallstrom, and I represented full time faculty on the District’s Fringe Benefits Committee (FBC).
Before I cover the proposal the Board approved on Oct. 15th, I would like to share a little bit of context for one of the best coming changes.
If you have Kaiser, and you have utilized any mental health services, you were likely met with a disappointing level of service: there are very few providers in the Kaiser network (I heard there’s one), follow-up appointments are nearly impossible to schedule within a reasonable timeframe, and it’s extremely unlikely to work with the same therapist. All these situations spell possible disaster for a group who increased their need for outpatient mental health services by 38.2% when compared to 2018-2019. Inpatient mental health services for Kaiser members increased by 397.6% in the same timeframe. Last year, the District sent out a survey to Kaiser members, and the results supported the anecdotal information about this very necessary set of services. Mary, Scott, and I promoted and supported the idea that the District should cover access to MHN (Managed Health Network) for Kaiser members to have more reliable, better mental healthcare coverage. Members can opt for Kaiser mental health services or select an in-network MHN provider with a $20.00 per visit co-pay for in-network covered services.
Something out of the FBC’s control is the fact PPO members will no longer be serviced by MHN. Instead, mental health coverage will go through Cigna, which will be expanded to include mental health providers. There are no changes to report about co-pays.
Board has approved the proposal that the District cover the 12.8% increase in benefit costs to cover full time faculty (Kaiser and PPO).
Some other, non-cost-related updates are:
Our Open Enrollment window is now three weeks, rather than the two-week period we experienced up to this point. That’s a 50% increase! This increase could help you make better informed decisions based on your partner’s/spouse’s insurance options.
Our Heath Care FSA (Flexible Spending Account) annual max will be increased to match the “current” year for IRS guidelines. So for this coming year, that will be $2750.00. The amount will have to be discussed each year, but at least we have agreed to allow this increase.
As your full-time faculty representatives on FBC, Mary, Scott, and I enlisted support from other members of the committee to reinforce our goals of increasing time to consider various proposals, bring back options to our constituent groups for discussion and comment, and then reconvene at a later meeting to vote. For some time, full time reps on FBC have been trying to get the Open Enrollment period lengthened: something Mary, Scott, and I brought up again and were successful in achieving. We also promoted the idea of the FSA increase and was also met with support this year. Lastly, Mary, Scott, and I worked hard to represent the benefits needs of all full time faculty: whether they are members of Kaiser or the PPO.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash