Trustees approve health care plan changes and a revised smoking policy

Topic: Administrative

May 3, 2013

The Ball State Board of Trustees today approved health care plan changes that give university employees more flexibility and move the plan year. 

Randy Howard, vice president for business affairs, said that partially in response to employee requests, the health care plan year will change from a fiscal year plan to a calendar year plan, beginning in January 2014. This aligns the plan year with the benefits year so that employees have better control over their deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. In addition, based on input from a recent employee benefits survey, effective July 1, the dental benefits plan will be offered as a separate plan from the health insurance plan. Employees will have the option of selecting both medical and dental insurance or either plan separately. Previously, health and dental coverage was a single, combined option. 

Depending on which plan employees choose, monthly premium increases for employees will range from $0.08 to $17.49. These increases are well below national trends and represent the university picking up a larger percentage of the entire premium cost. Howard said there was a clear signal from employees in the recent benefits survey that health care was their most valuable benefit, and increasing premiums were a concern. In recognition of employees’ partnership in achieving significant savings in health care plans over the past few years, the university wanted to keep employee premium increases as low as possible. Additionally, every employee participating in the university health care plans will receive a one-time $60 rebate by the end of the calendar year.

“This is all good news,” Howard said. “We have realized savings thanks to thoughtful wellness and health care choices by all of our valuable employees. We want to pass some of those savings along to employees in the form of minimal premium increases and the rebate.”

In other business, trustees approved a revised smoking policy that will become effective Aug. 1. Designated smoking areas will be eliminated, and use of tobacco will be permitted only in tailgating areas during home football games. The policy will apply to all students, faculty, employees, contractors and visitors. 

“The university is committed to providing a healthy learning and working environment for the entire community,” said Kay Bales, vice president for student affairs. “Ball State now is aligned with nearly 1,200 smoke-free and 800 tobacco-free campuses across the nation. 

“The new policy is consistent with the university’s wellness initiatives, the tobacco-free health care premium discount and our demonstrated commitment to the well-being of employees and students through the investments in facilities and educational programs.” 

In other action, the board approved a name change for the Department of Art to the School of Art. Provost Terry King said the new name more aptly describes the true nature of the school’s comprehensive art program, which has grown to more than 400 undergraduate students majoring in its programs, and offers a master of fine arts degree. The School of Art began in 1983 in the Fine Arts Building, expanding into the Art and Journalism Building in 2001. 

Also, the board approved a revised cost estimate of $1.35 million for the new greenhouse facility. The estimate was raised after donors provided additional private funding for this project.

The board also heard a report from Howard about retirement benefits, which noted that employees and retirees should enjoy confidence in the excellent financial position of the university’s retirement health and life insurance plans. 

Finally, the board approved a resolution honoring student trustee Michael T. Miller, who has served his alma mater with distinction for two years and graduates on Saturday. Miller also has been an energetic and articulate advocate for Ball State while achieving significant academic success as a double major in architecture and political science.

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