Gators taking care of Gators
UF and Shands are working to create a new model for offering health and wellness insurance to provide more cost-effective, customized care and better health outcomes for employees and their dependents.
The new health plan, to be called GatorCare, is expected to be effective January 2013, with open enrollment occurring for most in fall 2012. When implemented, pending legislative approval as of press time, the model will result in a consolidated health insurance plan that will encompass all eligible faculty, staff, graduate assistants, housestaff/residents and postdoctoral associates at UF, as well as Shands employees (Gainesville and Jacksonville) and employees of all direct support organizations and affiliates of the university.
“The goal of GatorCare is to improve the health of our employees at lower cost by providing them with easy access to our clinical faculty and facilities, to electronic information about their health records, and to services that emphasize prevention and early intervention,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System. “It’s about Gators taking care of Gators. Our faculty value the privilege of providing health care services to the faculty and staff of the University of Florida and Shands, and wish to do so in a manner that promotes their health, reduces their episodes of illness and creates a high level of satisfaction.”
One of the most important goals of the new model is to be as responsive to employee needs as possible by seeking ways to help improve health care access, health outcomes and quality of life — while keeping health care costs as low and competitive as possible, said Paula Fussell, UF vice president for human resource services. For state employees, such efforts are also mindful of the current uncertain health care benefit landscape and the probability of changes to state employee health plans that could lead to higher costs or reduced benefits for employees, Fussell said.
There will be an option under GatorCare that is designed to mirror the state’s current Preferred Provider Organization, or PPO, health insurance alternative. In addition, this plan will allow you to continue to use physicians and facilities within your community — regardless of where you or your dependents live or travel — for your health care needs.
The project is guided by a governing structure that includes executive sponsors, a project steering committee and various implementation work groups involving many faculty and staff. In addition, feedback was collected during the fall from focus groups involving more than 150 employees from a variety of areas within the university and Shands community.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is this happening now?
By creating its own health insurance plan, UF and Shands can provide their employees with an added measure of confidence in an uncertain health care landscape.
When will this happen?
The target date for implementation for most groups is January 2013, with open enrollment occurring in the fall of 2012.
What will be covered by the plan?
The planning steering committee is currently exploring the possibilities of what a new health plan could encompass. More details will be forthcoming as soon as they are available.
Can I opt out?
An employee can always choose to purchase his or her own health insurance or may be eligible for coverage as a dependent under another group plan. The GatorCare plan will replace the plans employees currently have through their employers.
For more information, visit healthplan.ufl.edu.