Regents Approve Overhaul of Health Insurance Plan

 SOCORRO, N.M. October 24, 2012– As a result of mounting health insurance costs, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents approved a new system that includes three PPO plans and scraps the three existing options for employees.

Staff from Human Resources presented the new plan at the Board meeting on Friday, Oct. 19, in Socorro. The Employee Benefit Trust, which administers the health insurance plan for employees, has been losing money consistently for several years.

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said, “As tough as it is to increase premiums during times where we’ve had no salary increases, on the other hand, not having a benefit program would be worse.”

The Indemnity Plan, which cost the most, is being scrapped, as is the High Deductible Plan, which cost the least. Now, all employees will be covered through one of three PPO plans, or Preferred Provider Organization.

The health coverage is not changing – except to add options. The main changes are in the premium structures and out-of-pocket expenses. Virtually all employees will see increases in their premiums.

The bi-weekly cost for family plans for people earning more than $25,000 per year will be $277.87 (Plan 3), $292.80 (Plan 2) or $371.45 (Plan 1).

For employees earning more than $25,000 with only individual insurance, the biweekly costs will be $114.34 (Plan 3), $116.93 (Plan 2) or $148.45 (Plan 1).

The three new plan options all have identical health coverage, but vary in the out-of-pocket costs and the deductibles paid by employees.

 Plan 1

For the complete list of benefits for Plan 1 (with a $500 deductible), click here.


Plan 2

For the complete list of benefits for Plan 2 (with a $750 deductible), click here.


 Plan 3

 For the complete list of benefits for Plan 3 (with a $1,000 deductible), click here.


 Plan 1, which costs more per pay period, has a lower deductible -- $500 for individuals or $1,000 for family. Click here for the premium schedule for Plan 1.

Plan 2, which has the middle cost per pay period, has a deductible of $750 for individuals or $1,500 for families. Click here for the premium schedule for Plan 2.

Plan 3, which costs the least per pay period, has a $1,000 deductible for individuals and $2,000 for families. Click here for the premium schedule for Plan 3.

For the schedule of out-of-pocket expenses associated with each plan, click here.

The plans provide all the health coverage provided under the current plans and have added some new areas of coverage including acupuncture, family counseling, infertility diagnostics and hearing aids for children/adolescents. The health care plans will also include dental and vision coverage. A major concern was to minimize premium increases as much as possible in order to maintain affordable premiums for employees.

Regardless of how many employees opt for the various option, the Employee Benefit Trust is expected to save millions of dollars per year and administrators expect the Trust to become solvent.

The annual Employee Benefits Fair will be all day Tuesday, November 27, in the third floor ballrooms of the Fidel Center. Times for the various sessions will be announced soon.

Vice President of Finance Lonnie Marquez, in presenting the monthly financial report, said the university is on target for expenditures and revenues.

Changes in the operations at the Playas Training and Research Center have had an immediate positive impact on the finances at the Center.

Dr. John Meason, director of EMRTC, which oversees Playas, said the new mode of operations – with no Tech employees on site – will allow the Playas Center to repay at least $250,000 of its debt each quarter for the foreseeable future. The structural changes have not had an impact on customer relations, except to make the facility run more smoothly and more efficiently, he said.

“The model we are using appears to be working rather well,” Meason said. “We are managing [Playas] totally and completely from our headquarters at New Mexico Tech.”

Marquez and Meason also reported on the operations of the Institute for Energy Research Applications, a Tech facility based in Albuquerque. That Institute is being shut down, except for its offshoot, the Environmental Finance Center, which has a healthy client and revenue base.

In other news:

  • Preliminary enrollment figures for 2013 are ahead of the same time last year. Already, 15 new students have paid their application fee for the fall 2013 semester, ahead of the 13 at the same time in 2011. Further, Hispanic enrollment continues to climb, including 28.3 percent of the freshmen class, which is ahead of the 25.5 percent of the student body percentage.
  • Miguel Hidalgo, director of special projects, reported that construction of the new dorm is ahead of schedule. He will be going out for bid on furniture soon. The first floor of the three-story dorm has been framed. The contractor, Pavilion Construction, will be framing the second floor before the end of October.
  • Lopez introduced the new chairman of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Richard Sonnenfeld of the Physics Department. Sonnenfeld also informed the board about the upcoming American Physical Society regional meeting, which will be at Tech for the first time this year on October 25 and 26.
  • The Board approved four resolutions relating to the disposal of surplus property. The resolutions dealt with (1) items valued at less than $5,000, (2) items valued at greater than $5,000, (3) damaged property, and (4) items to be cannibalized or traded.
  • Lopez spoke about the upcoming election, which will include a General Obligation Bond (Bond Issue C) for higher education. He said he has met with the Chieftain, the Albuquerque Journal and other organizations to get endorsements for the initiative. If passed, Bond C would provide $18 million toward construction of a new Bureau of Geology building on campus in Socorro.
  • The Regents were presented with the September list of graduates.
  • The Board learned of a restricted fund purchase from Dell Computers for $263,152.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech