Legislature approves UF proposal to self-insure

Last week, the Florida Legislature approved the University of Florida’s proposal to self-insure beginning in 2013. If the legislation receives Gov. Rick Scott’s approval, the UF board of trustees is authorized to proceed with its plans to provide or arrange for the provision of health and other insurance programs to UF employees.

The proposed model of health and wellness insurance created by UF&Shands, called GatorCare, provides more cost-effective, customized care and better health outcomes for employees and their dependents. 

“This is really exciting,” said Paula Varnes Fussell, UF vice president for Human Resource Services. “We have the opportunity to design a plan to provide our employees with a range of choices and improved quality of life while retaining greater control over what we — as an institution and individually — pay for health care.”

As a self-insured employer, UF will follow a national trend among large universities and private institutions finding creative ways to rein in their costs while providing optimum care for their employees.

Although some UF employees have expressed trepidation about the unknown factors, many are enthusiastic about the possibilities. The university also predicts future changes to state employee health plans that will lead to higher costs for the university and employees.

The invitation to negotiate process, which identifies potential third-party administrators for a range of insurance programs, is now underway. Early this year, UF&Shands invited U.S. insurance providers to submit proposals describing their abilities to best address the employers’ needs. Eight medical and 10 pharmacy insurance providers were qualified to continue in the process.

In addition to securing major medical and pharmacy benefit providers, UF has the opportunity to identify new vendors for its voluntary insurance programs including dental, vision, life, cancer, and disability.

The details of the plan will not be finalized until summer, but UF expects to identify the vendors for its voluntary insurance programs in the next few weeks and for the major medical and pharmacy programs by early May.

Updates and additional information will be available on the GatorCare web site. For more information, contact healthplan@ufl.edu.