"Changes in U. of California's Medical Plans Worry Some Employees." The piece reports information from UCOP finance head Peter Taylor that may be new to most people--it was to me at least.
Mr. Taylor is quoted as saying that offering UCSB employees the same plan (UC Care Tier 1) "'would raise individual premiums systemwide by $323 a year. That's asking 18,400 non-UC-Santa Barbara employees to pay out of
pocket tremendously so that about 600 Santa Barbara employees would have
access to this,' he said. 'We're trying to find a balance. We don't
have an inexhaustible supply of money, and yet we want to provide a
solid benefit to our faculty and staff.'"
Does this mean that Cottage Health Systems wanted $5.94 million more than UC and Blue Shield were willing to pay? This comes to about $10,000 extra per affected employee. Does it mean that actuaries expect that each of the 600 UCSB employees will need an extra $10,000 a year apiece to cover the difference between the Tier 1 care available apparently everywhere except at the Santa Barbara campus and the Tier 2 that they will have? I will ask.
We do seem now to have a quantification of the gap between Cottage and the University. We also have a somewhat different tone regarding the Santa Barbara campus.
Mr. Taylor's comments seem to recast UCSB employees, who defined themselves as seekers of a cross-campus equity of which they have been deprived, as demanders of subsidies from their UC colleagues elsewhere. I pointed out in the post that cross-campus equity is not a subsidy, since UC Care is being underwritten by UC medical facilities and personnel in ways that are complex in accounting terms, and because UC has "subsidized" other non-medical campuses in providing them with local Tier 1 facilities. Any framing of UCSB as seeking special privileges is inaccurate.
This framing also misstates the nature of insurance pools, which are all about the mutualization of common costs. This was a driving principle behind the Affordable Care Act, which outlaws the exclusion of people on the basis of a "preexisting condition." Insurance providers are now not allowed to throw less healthy people out of health care pools because they've identified them as having higher individual costs. Similarly, UC shouldn't throw a campus out of UC Care Tier 1 because their local health facility has higher costs.
The framing in which UCSB is seeking a subsidy is also at odds with UC budgetary history: UCOP distributes to UCSB lower funding per student than it gives to any other UC campus (see the Rebenching report, Appendix A for a table and Appendix B for a bar graph). We've commented on campus inequities in this space before. To state the matter somewhat pointedly, UCSB is a long-term net subsidizer of the UC system as a whole. Let's posit that this UCSB contribution to the UC system is a good thing in the "all for one and one for all" spirit of UC as One University. This spirit leads directly to UCOP negotiating correct UC Tier 1 coverage at UCSB.
I hope that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Duckett redouble their efforts to fix this inequity.
13 hours ago