NU to audit eligibility of dependents enrolled in health insurance plans

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The University of Nebraska is conducting an audit of all dependents enrolled in university medical and dental plans.

Announced Feb. 1, the audit is designed as a potential way to reduce health insurance expenses. The independent firm Chapman Kelly will complete the audit in stages between February and May. Only employees with dependents enrolled in the health insurance program will receive correspondence from Chapman Kelly. Employees with no dependents enrolled will not be contacted.

"As your employer, part of our responsibility is to keep costs down so we can maintain an affordable health care plan for all employees," Keith Dietze, director of university-wide benefits, said in an e-mail message to all NU employees. "We must also make sure that only those dependents who are actually eligible are the ones being provided with coverage."

Similar audits have been completed at several other universities, including the University of Michigan. National studies report that each dependent's health care costs average approximately $2,500 annually.

"In a period of thin budgets, the increasing cost of health care insurance competes directly with our academic budget," Chancellor Harvey Perlman said in an e-mail message to UNL faculty and staff. "It has been demonstrated at other places that there are significant savings to be achieved by performing an audit to assure all dependents are in fact eligible to be included in our insurance pool.

"If, in fact, savings are found it will not only be fair to all of us properly in the insurance program, but could also reduce the need to cut academic programs."

The university is adopting a requirement that all new faculty and staff provide dependent documentation when they first enroll in the NU health insurance program.

Within the next few weeks, all NU employees with dependents enrolled in medical and/or dental plans will receive information from Chapman Kelly. This information will include definitions of who is eligible for the insurance benefits and offer an opportunity to voluntarily remove all ineligible dependents. The "Amnesty Phase" will end Feb. 28.

The "Verification Phase" will run March 7 to May 6. University employees with enrolled dependents will be asked to provide evidence of eligibility in this phase. Evidence will depend on the relationship of the dependent. Possible documentation may include copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses. The letter from Chapman Kelly will identify exactly what is needed. A postage paid envelope will be included with the letter.

Chapman Kelly will respond with a confirmation postcard if dependents are ruled eligible. Ineligible dependents will be removed from coverage effective Feb. 28 and notified of COBRA eligibility (if applicable).

If employees fail to provide the dependent verification documents, dependents will be removed from coverage effective Feb. 28.

There will be an appeal process for employees who disagree with eligibility decisions. Information about the appeals process will be provided at a later date.

In the message to all NU employees, Dietze said neither Chapman Kelly nor the university is interested in employees' personal details. However, in accordance with a Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services requirement, some employees will be asked to provide Social Security Numbers for dependents (if missing from the university membership record). Chapman Kelly will provide additional details about verification documentation, privacy and security.

"The documents you submit are used solely to verify dependent eligibility so we can be assured that only those who are eligible for coverage under the terms of the university's medical and dental plans receive those benefits," said Dietze.

Perlman said UNL is prepared to assist faculty and staff with the audit process.

"There may be some of our colleagues who have special problems locating or getting possession of the required documentation, for instance those whose records are in international depositories and those who are on leave," said Perlman. "The university will work with the consultant in such instances."

UNL employees who need assistance with the audit can contact Chapman Kelly at 877-478-0448 or the UNL Benefits Office at 472-2600.