Your Open Enrollment website and booklet will be available the week of Oct. 23, with all of the details about your options and costs, and what's changing in 2018.
“We are pleased that we have been able to keep premium costs exceptionally low for the overwhelming majority of our people,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, vice president of Systemwide Human Resources. “Employees still have an array of choices of high value, high quality plans at low rates — allowing them to improve or maintain their health and the health of their families.”
This message in Spanish
- Continued low costs — Most faculty and staff will see medical plan premium increases of less than $10 a month across all salary and coverage levels. Premium increases for UC Care will be a bit higher, ranging from $17-$53 a month. UC will continue to adjust premiums by pay level to ensure costs are distributed fairly, and to offer dental and vision plans for you and your family at no cost to faculty and staff. See this year's rates here.
- Explore UC's diverse options or stay in current plan — UC will continue to offer the same choice of quality medical plans next year. Health care needs can change over time, so take a moment to review UC's full range of plan choices to make sure you have the best fit for you and your family.
- Changes for 2018 – See below for details about a new pharmacy benefits administrator for UC's preferred provider organization (PPO) plans and network changes for members of Western Health Advantage (WHA).
- Ways to manage your costs — You don't have to sacrifice the quality of your care to keep your costs down. Here are a few suggestions:
o If your medical need is not an emergency, save time and money by skipping the emergency room and getting the care you need from your plan's advice nurse, telemedicine provider or urgent care center.
o Consider enrolling in UC's Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Plan with a Health Savings Account to lower your tax bill by paying for health care costs with pretax dollars.
o To help you make informed health care choices, take advantage of tools like Castlight (available with UC's PPO plans) to compare doctors and medical services for cost, quality and convenience.
- Benefits to help you stay well — Seeing your doctor regularly for check-ups helps you prevent problems later on, and check-ups (and other preventive care) are free with every UC plan. You should also check your plan's website for information about free wellness and health management tools. For example, your plan may offer fitness and nutrition classes, health coaching programs, discounts on gym memberships, and apps or online tools to help you manage your care.
Changes to UC's PPO pharmacy benefits
For 2018, Anthem Blue Cross will replace OptumRx in administering pharmacy benefits for all of UC's preferred provider organization (PPO) medical plans. Anthem currently administers medical and behavioral health benefits for UC's PPO plans, and will continue in that role in 2018. This change will affect faculty, staff and retirees enrolled in the following PPO plans:
- UC Care
- UC Health Savings Plan
- UC High Option Supplement to Medicare
- UC Medicare PPO with Rx
UC is working to minimize disruption for members, but you should expect changes to the formulary, to processes and to pharmacy, mail order and specialty networks. There are a few steps you should take to make sure you're prepared for the change. Please look for further details during Open Enrollment.
Changes for Western Health Advantage members
Although UC Davis Health has ended its ownership and commercial network participation in Western Health Advantage (WHA), UC and WHA have come to a special arrangement for UC employees. Through this arrangement, UC WHA members and their families may continue to see their current UC Davis Health primary care provider (PCP) or select a UC Davis Health PCP in the future. WHA members will not have access to the Advantage Referral program, which allowed you to self-refer to specialists within WHA's network. Instead, starting in 2018, your PCP will refer you to an appropriate provider if you require specialty care.
As soon as your Open Enrollment booklet arrives, take time to review your choices so you'll have the right benefits for you and your family in 2018./span>
UC Systemwide Human Resources is working with UC's benefit plan carriers to ensure their readiness to meet the needs of those affected by the devastating wildfires in Northern and Southern California.
If you need extra assistance, please contact your plan directly (contact information is here and below). Customer service representatives will do their best to offer the help you need as quickly as possible.
Replacing lost prescriptions
If you have lost an essential prescription medication in the fire, you or your pharmacy may call your pharmacy benefits administrator and request an emergency supply. You may also request a change of address for your home delivery, or a transfer to pick up your prescription at a network pharmacy.
Seeking medical, dental or vision care
If your medical facility is closed due to the fires, or if you have left the area and are unable to see your usual medical or dental provider, please call your plan's customer service representative for help finding a provider near you.
Any VSP member in need of eye care and/or replacement glasses due to the wildfires can call VSP Member Services at 800-877-7195 and have their VSP benefits reinstated regardless of eligibility.
Emotional health support
There are a number of options available to those who need emotional support coping with stress and loss caused by the wildfires. Please contact your Faculty and Staff Assistance Program or your behavioral health plan for a referral.
Claims for loss of life or property, disability
UC faculty or staff in Northern California who have an auto, homeowner or renter's policy with California Casualty and have been forced to evacuate their home, suffered smoke damage, or suffered other fire related damage, please call 800-800-9410. Press 4 when prompted or remain on the line to be transferred to a claims specialist who will quickly assist you.
If you are a UC employee impacted by the fires and you have a current disability claim, Liberty Mutual will support you by:
- Exercising leniency with regard to providing notice of loss, proof of loss, medical record due dates, and appeal deadlines
- Accepting a verbal change-of-address (with appropriate information to establish identity)
- Offering option to activate direct deposit for short-term disability
- Waiving the 10-day waiting period for stop payment procedures and reissuance of benefits
Liberty Mutual will send a special email message to claimants (who have provided an email address) covering the above information and providing alternate contact information.
Prudential stands ready to assist with any life or AD&D claim issues that might need special handling of any kind.
Contact information for UC plans
- Medical (Anthem): 844-437-0486
- Behavioral health (Anthem): 844-792-5141
- Pharmacy (OptumRx): 855-489-0651 (Core, UC Care, UC Health Savings Plan); 855-798-4682 (UC High Option, UC Medicare PPO)
- Medical and pharmacy:
o Health Net Blue & Gold: 800-539-4072
o Health Net Seniority Plus: 800-443-0815
o Kaiser Permanente: 800-464-4000
o Kaiser Senior Advantage: 800-443-0815
o Western Health Advantage (WHA): 888-563-2252
- Behavioral health:
o Optum Behavioral Health (Health Net Blue & Gold, Kaiser Permanente, WHA): 888-440-8225
o Kaiser: Call your local clinic
- Delta Dental: 800-777-5854 (PPO); 800-422-4234 (HMO)
- Vision Service Plan (VSP): 866-240-8344
- California Casualty: 800-800-9410
- Liberty Mutual: 800-838-4461
- Prudential: 800-524-0542
UC offers comprehensive benefits to faculty, staff and retirees, and to their families. The rules around these benefits can be complicated, though, especially for domestic partners. If you are in a domestic partnership, check out Establishing a Domestic Partnership and Benefits for Domestic PartnersPDF to make sure you understand the rules and how to ensure your partner doesn't lose out on any valuable benefits.
One important reminder is that eligibility requirements for health and welfare benefits are different from eligibility requirements for UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) benefits. That means your partner might be eligible for one kind of benefits, but not the other — and only if you take the necessary steps. Here's an overview.
Health and welfare benefits
Opposite-gender domestic partners are only eligible for health and welfare benefits if the employee or the domestic partner is age 62 or older. For same-gender domestic partners, there is no age requirement for health and welfare benefits eligibility.
While no documentation of the relationship is required to enroll and start coverage, you will receive a Family Member Eligibility Verification packet which will require you to provide proof of your domestic partnership in order to continue the coverage. If you do not provide proof, your partner will be disenrolled.
UCRP survivor and death benefits
UCRP is different. There is no age requirement for eligibility for UCRP survivor and death benefits for same-gender or opposite-gender domestic partners. But your domestic partnership must be established by an approved method, apart from the Family Member Eligibility Verification process described above. See Establishing a Domestic Partnership and Benefits for Domestic PartnersPDF for details.
It is very important to know that if you pass away before completing the steps to establish your domestic partnership, your partner could forego UCRP benefits. Protect the UCRP benefits to which your partner may be entitled by formally establishing your domestic partnership as soon as possible, regardless of whether you're enrolling your partner in UC health and welfare benefits.
Please note that Savings Choice does not include UCRP survivor or death benefits, but you can leave the vested balance of your Savings Choice account to the beneficiary or beneficiaries of your choice. Establishing a Domestic Partnership explains how to make sure all of your beneficiary information is up to date./h3>/h3>
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE).
Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use.
“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”
AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.
“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor.
“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.
“There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment,” Youtsey said.
UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.
The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.
Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.
“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Chelsey Slattery rejoined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 18, 2017, as an area nutrition, family, and consumer sciences advisor in Butte County.
From 2013 to 2016, Slattery was a UCCE community education specialist, supervising the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties.
From July 2016 to September 2017, Slattery was a program manager at UC Davis Center for Nutrition Schools, where she oversaw a statewide, multi-component, evidence-based, and research-tested nutrition education program. She facilitated training in coordination with the UC CalFresh State Office and UC CalFresh counties throughout the state of California.
Concurrently, Slattery has been working as a per-diem nutrition specialist since 2015 at Shady Creek Outdoor Education Foundation, where she provides oversight and guidance for the Fit Quest program, bringing comprehensive children's wellness programs to Northern California schools.
Slattery earned an M.S. in organizational leadership from the School of Business Management at National University. She completed a B.S. in exercise physiology/exercise science from CSU Chico.
Based in Oroville, Slattery can be reached at (530) 538-7201 and email@example.com.
California Naturalist wins ANROSP outstanding team award
The California Naturalist Program was named the 2017 Outstanding Team by the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP). Sabrina Drill, associate director of California Naturalist and UC Cooperative Extension advisor, and Marisa Rodriguez, community education specialist with California Naturalist in Southern California, accepted the award on Sept. 21 at the annual ANROSP conference held at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Ore.
Led by director Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, the CalNat staff includes Greg Ira, academic coordinator; Brook Gamble, community education specialist; Drill and Rodriguez.
Teamwork is fundamental to the program structure. Since 2012, California Naturalist has certified more than 1,800 Naturalists, who have logged over 100,000 volunteer hours.
The team credits its success to the support and efforts across UC ANR and an extended team of course partners, instructors, statewide partners, educators, scientists, conservation practitioners, and many others who have contributed to the continued adaptive development of the program.
On Oct. 19, Joseph Grant, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, will be among the people inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 33rd Annual Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet.
For most of his career, Grant, who retired in 2016, worked as a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor and is known for his research on walnuts, cherries, apples, olives and other tree crops.
“It's kind of awesome. I mean when you look at the other people that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I don't consider myself in that class of people so it's humbling,” Grant said about his induction to the Lodi News-Sentinel.
In addition to Grant, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame will honor Henry “Skip” Foppiano, Jack and Pati Hamm and Hank Van Exel, and give a posthumous honor to winemaker Robert Gerald Mondavi.
According to the Hall of Fame, it “honors those individuals who have contributed to agriculture and to their community in significant ways.”
The banquet will be held at the Robert J. Cabral Ag Center in Stockton. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased by calling the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce at (209) 547-2770 or by visiting http://stocktonchamber.org/ag-hall-of-fame.
Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and integrated pest management (IPM) specialist, has been named the recipient of the 2017 B.Y. Morrison Medal by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).
Zalom is the first entomologist to receive the coveted award established in 1968, according to Kim Kaplan of the USDA-ARS Office of Communications.
Zalom was singled out for his outstanding work in IPM related to sustainable horticulture production, specifically for “his outstanding leadership and public service in IPM for horticultural crops at the regional, state, national and international levels; his stellar accomplishments in horticultural crops sustainability and pest management and his work ethic, service, courage and integrity, all driven by his insatiable curiosity and passion to solve problems in the horticultural crops landscape,” Kaplan said.
Zalom received the award, co-sponsored by USDA-ARS and the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), on Sept. 21 at the ASHS conference in Waikoloa, Hawaii. He presented the Morrison Memorial Lecture on “Significance of Integrated Pest Management to Sustainable Horticultural Production – Observations and Experiences.”
Read more at http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25218. -- Kathy Keatley Garvey