Every year we meet with UW to review our GAIP health insurance benefits and evaluate the experience of ASEs and their dependents under the plan. This year we’ve met twice (once in May and one in August) in anticipation of bargaining a new contract in Spring quarter (2015).

Under the collective bargaining agreement 50% FTE ASEs pay no premiums for GAIP health insurance and dependents pay 1/3 the cost of premiums. Although the plan will not change in the coming year (2014/15), UW has informed us that the plan’s insurance carrier, Lifewise Assurance, has projected higher-than-usual increases in premiums. We’ve requested more information to help us evaluate these projections, including not only experience data from the most recent year (2013/14) but also a complete explanation of how Lifewise calculates its overhead and administrative costs, and details about the University’s reserve account and its refunding contract with Lifewise. We also have asked for information about what alternatives may exist to the current GAIP, whether a different carrier, a different plan with the same carrier, a different funding structure (currently the GAIP is fully insured by Lifewise, rather than self-insured by UW) or something else.

We also are looking at how the provision of health benefits for all under the Affordable Care Act and the Washington Health Care Exchange has affected the health insurance environment. For example, as you may know the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP) will no longer exist for UW students beginning the 2014/15 school year. The University will offer a slightly modified version of the plan (ISHIP) for international students, but all other students are being referred to the Exchange to purchase coverage. Historically the University contracted with Lifewise Assurance for both the GAIP and SHIP plans.

As this process continues we welcome your participation. Please contact us if you have input, questions, or if you wish to participate in any meetings. We’ll otherwise keep you apprised of any further developments. Also please be on the lookout later this month for a membership bargaining survey, which will ask for further input about your experience with the plan and other items.