Health Insurance Woes Continue for UCSB Employees

Question of Affordable and Accessible Hospital Services Raised

After the University of California announced two weeks ago that it struck a deal with Sansum Clinic over new health care plans, UCSB employees sighed a moment of relief. The agreement will allow them to receive care at Sansum Clinic through a “UC Select” Teir 1 plan once health insurance plans are restructured in January.

Several employees have expressed gratitude in the partial victory but say the issue has not completely subsided because the matter of hospital services has not been resolved.

UC Office of the President (UCOP) officials have been unable to reach a deal with Cottage Hospital for the Tier 1 option, a PPO plan part of UC Care, the name of the new three-tiered system. This means that for UCSB employees to receive treatment at Cottage, they would have to choose the Tier 2 plan, and pay 20 percent of the service costs (capped at $3,000 for individuals and $9,000 for families). UCSB employees who select the Tier 1 option would have to travel to Ventura or UCLA to receive hospital treatment. UCSB faculty and staff have come together on more than one occasion during the fall quarter to express frustrations to visiting UCOP officials.

A side but pertinent component of the issue is that a merge between Sansum Clinic and Cottage Hospital is pending federal approval. According to Cottage Hospital spokesperson Maria Zate, a decision about the alignment is expected to be made in the next couple of months; but there would be no immediate change in insurance policies, as they are in place until the end of 2014.

A letter from the UCSB faculty association board to its members last week reads, “We will continue to press for further negotiations with Cottage Hospital now and in the coming year, and we encourage you also to pursue the matter by asking all interested parties — Cottage Hospital, local politicians, Senate President Bhavnani, Chancellor Yang, UC Council President William Jacob, and President Napolitano — to keep up the good work and secure adequate Tier 1 hospitalization for UCSB.”

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