Slight rate increases effective June 1

United Healthcare announces new coverage costs for GA-23111 policyholders

At recent meetings with the Railway Labor Organizations constituting the Policyholder under GA-23111, a detailed study of the premiums and benefit payments under the various Plans was made. It was agreed that the following payment rate changes would be made for coverage effective June 1, 2001 (payment for June coverage is due May 20th).

Plans A & B -- There will be no changes in the monthly payment rates.

Plan C -- The monthly payment for:

Plan D -- The monthly payment rate for coverage will increase from $190 to $225.

Plan F -- The monthly payment rate will increase from $102 to $110.

Plan E -- The monthly payment rate will increase from $103 to $120.

Answers to Important Questions about these changes

Q. Why do the premiums go up every year?

A. UnitedHealthcare examines the amount of benefits paid out each year for each plan under GA-23111 along with the estimated impact of health care inflation. The premium rates depend on the level of benefits paid out. As more benefits are paid out, the premium rate must also increase at a similar rate.

For all Plans under GA-23111, the increased use of services and the inflation in medical care costs resulted in higher payment rates. For Plan D, the change is caused primarily by the cost of prescription drug coverage (see next question).

Q. Why is the premium for Plan D going up $35 while the premium for Plan F is only increasing $8?

A. Plan D and Plan F provide the same benefits except that Plan D provides coverage for prescription drugs and Plan F does not. The difference in the rate increases under these two plans is caused, to a great extent, by the cost of the prescription drug benefit.

About 50% of the total amount of benefits that are paid out under Plan D are for prescription drugs. In recent years, the benefits paid for Plan D prescription drugs have increased at a rate of about 20% per year. These increases are influenced by the number of people who get prescriptions, the number of prescriptions they fill and the cost of each prescription. We expect the prescription drug benefits to continue to increase 20% next year, which is the major factor impacting the Plan D payment rates.

Q. Why is there a deductible on my prescription drug purchases from the pharmacy?

A. In spite of the advantages of using the mail order pharmacy benefit, many members continue to purchase drugs at the local pharmacy that could be obtained through the mail. This activity increases the cost of the prescription drug benefit because it costs less to purchase drugs through the mail than it does to provide them through the local pharmacy. A deductible and co-insurance was added to discourage this and encourage the use of the mail order pharmacy benefit.

Q. Can I change from Plan D to Plan F or from Plan F to Plan D?

A. You cannot change plans until an open enrollment period. The next open enrollment period is currently planned for December 2002, with changes effective on January 1, 2003.

Q. Will GA-23111 benefits change?

A. At this time no benefit changes are planned. However, if costs continue to rise, changes in plan benefits may be needed to help control the cost of the plans.

(Editor's Note: To contact United Healthcare, write: Railroad Accounts, 450 Columbus Blvd., P.O. Box 150453, Hartford, CT 06115-0453).


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers