From WILL - News Headlines -

U of I Employees Question Health Care Contracts as Deadline Approaches

Prior to Tuesday's vote by the the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, University of Illinois employees were asking a number of questions with the Friday open enrollment deadline quickly approaching.

As things stand now, state workers and retirees still have until Friday to choose a health insurance plan. At one of the last outreach sessions on the Urbana campus, employees were being advised to choose the one they want, although they could still be defaulted into the Quality Care Health Plan option at the deadline.

One employee, Becky Heller, said her biggest concern is being allowed to change her mind if a better choice becomes available.

"They're not letting us know whether that's a guarantee or not," Heller said. "They're saying they think that they'll open enrollment again, and they think that they'll let us switch if things change, but they're not guaranteeing that. So we very well may be stuck with whatever we choose for an entire year."

Heller said she may have to consider an HMO plan in a nearby county and find a new doctor, but would still be paying lower premiums than what is in the Quality Care plan.

Employee Kathryn Smith said her concern is the state's backlog of bills, and the time it takes hospitals to be reimbursed.

"I don't know if any business in this country today that has its doors open if it's creditors don't pay them within a year," Smith said. "I'm a little concerned that our hospitals aren't going to survive this if we are left on this Quality Care Health Plan."

Brenda Butts is assistant director of University Payroll and Benefits at the U of I's Urbana campus. She said even if an employee chooses an option they ultimately cannot enroll in, Butts said she believes the state will benefit by simply seeing how many have opted for a particular plan, or 'voted' for it.