August 23rd, 2010

  • Location: Sayles-Hill Lounge
  • Time: 9:00 am
  • Present: Kerstin Cardenas (Ex-Officio), Andrea Zunkel (Ex-Officio), Cliff Clark, Linda Mueller, Sandy Pieri, Austin Robinson-Coolidge, Mike Tompos (Chair)
  • Absent: Greg Hewitt
  • Guests: Steve Benson, BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota; Steve Strege, Art Freeman, AFG
  • Secretary: Andrea M. Zunkel
  • Keywords: Benefits Committee Minutes, Benefits Committee Meetings


Introductions were made.

Renewal Rates for BlueCross BlueShield of MN:

Steve Benson shared very positive news with our group regarding our renewal rate for 2011 .  The highlights regarding this renewal rate and future plan decisions include:

  • BlueCross recognizes that Carleton has been a client now for 20+ years.
  • BlueCross changed their formula for renewals; previous review included a 2.5 year look back.  This year’s new formula has a 2 year look back and the calculation is a bit more transparent.
  • The renewal increase does take into consideration changes resulting from health care reform (which increased the rate a bit) to offset changes imposed (e.g. preventive care now at 100% coverage without a monetary “cap”, adult dependent coverage up to 26 years of age, lifetime maximums are removed, etc.).
  • Trend for use of high deductible plans is increasing at a higher level.
  • Inflationary trends are taken in to account with the leveraged trend.
  • Carleton’s leveraged trend will be impacted for the following year if the College does not adjust costs accordingly (e.g. increase co-pays and deductibles).
  • BlueCross has worked with AFG for our 2011 renewal, which is much lower for 2011 than our past increases over the last two years.  Steve Benson shared that BlueCross could possibly negotiate somewhat; however, he certainly impressed that our plan changes (discontinuation of the Aware Gold plan) and our better utilization have certainly been taken into account and assisted with this lower than anticipated rate increase.
  • Steve Benson also indicated that rate increases for next year will be driven by group size; rate guarantees usually begin with employers with 1000 employees.
  • It is recognized that lower utilization could mean a slower increase in our renewal rates.
  • Approximately 67% of our renewal rate is based upon current utilization plus high (continuing) claims.  It is anticipated that with changes made (Aware Gold no longer an option), leveraged trends, etc., our renewal rates for 2012 shouldn’t increase too much.
  • Steve shared some renewal information that will likely change for our plans in 2011.  They include assuring for mental health parity (BCBS has been very conservative in the past with this), Aware PPO changes of removal of the 100% coverage for outpatient labs/ex-rays, no “cap” on preventive care, etc.

Steve inquired about our current perceptions regarding work with SelectAccount.  He recognized that the first part of the year had some concerning issues; Andrea advised that it appears that things are working better now. 

Kerstin shared with Steve that Carleton College would like a maximum on renewals for the next few years.

Steve left the meeting at this point.  Our thanks for his time and information was expressed.

Our brokers, Steve Strege and Art Freeman, reviewed specific renewal information with the group.  Brief highlights include:

  • A 5-year summary (from 2007-2011) reflects a general trend rate increase of 12%.
  • Moving to a partially self-funded plan for 2011would result in a lowered renewal increase; however, the committee still feels it best that no plan changes should be made for 2011.
  • Steve indicated that company trend is moving to HSA’s and higher HRA deductibles.
  • Mike requested a macro-based tool to use as an impact study to determine outcome of plan changes for our community.
  • Cliff indicated that he has heard some comments regarding plan changes from faculty members; Kerstin has requested Cliff follow up with her regarding this.
  • Steve shared information for our review on a new program that would be available to our employees.  It is called Consult a Doctor 24/7 by Phone or E-mail.   Steve reports it as being “cutting edge” benefit options.  Costs are $2.85 per family unit per month.
  • Steve presented some information on health care reform, particularly sharing information regarding Grandfathered Plans.  Carleton College will be required to review this information and sign off on a renewal form for BlueCross BlueShield.
  • Kerstin requested Steve electronically forward the health care reform information to us so that we can place more information on our website.
  • Steve shared that SelectAccount has requested an increase in their rates for 2011 (from $4.50/person to $4.75/person).  Andrea expressed concern on this, especially due to the difficulties encountered and the hours required to resolve these problems.
  • Steve indicated that there is no information available yet regarding renewal rates for Delta Dental.

Final Discussion Points:

  • The committee made the decision to keep our plans the same for 2011.
  • AFG will continue to work with BlueCross BlueShield to try to obtain an even lower renewal rate if possible.
  • Kerstin shared that we will need AFG to pursue another vendor to use for our flexible spending accounts, as Optum Health has not performed to our community’s expectations.
  • Kerstin recommends that the Tuesday Group (formerly Admin. Council) be advised of our renewal rate information and decisions and request their approval as soon as possible. 
  • We will attempt to provide Open Enrollment processing earlier this year to assure better scheduling for all.

Miscellaneous Information:

Cliff Clark indicated that he has been removed from the Benefits Committee as a faculty representative, as well as Greg Hewitt.  New representatives from the faculty will be Joe Chihade and Pavel Kapinos.

Since Cliff has been a member of this committee for so long and his historical committee information is so valued, we expressed our hopes that he will continue to attend our meetings as a guest.