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Healthcare Reform Raises Questions
May 4, 2010, Volume 56, No. 32

Ever since healthcare reform was signed into law in March, Penn has been working closely with our legal counsel and benefits consultants to understand exactly what it will mean—for Penn as an institution as well as for our faculty and staff. We know that you have lots of questions, as do we. In fact, there seem to be more questions than answers right now when it comes to healthcare reform. This is a complex, multi-year legislation, and the government has yet to set forth the specifics of the regulations. This means there are a multitude of different interpretations out there at this point, but not many definitive answers.

One of the most common questions we’ve been getting is about health coverage for children up to age 26. A provision in the legislation calls for employers to cover adult children up to age 26 unless they’re eligible for coverage under another employer plan. This provision must be implemented for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. Since Penn’s plan years begin every July, we currently expect to put this in place as of the plan year beginning July 1, 2011.

We realize that many of you were hoping for an earlier adoption of this provision; however, it’s more complicated than it may seem. For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t yet defined what a dependent means for the purpose of this provision. In addition, opening up our eligibility to a larger population may have an impact on premium rates. As you know, we’ve just completed our Open Enrollment period for the plan year beginning July 1, 2010. By the time the healthcare reform legislation was signed, our plan design—including premium rates—for this coming plan year was already completed.

As we get more clarity around the regulations, we will reassess Penn’s timetable for implementing the various healthcare reform provisions—including coverage for children up to age 26. This legislation is unprecedented in the nation’s history, and we expect that there will be many modifications made to the reform measures in the coming months and years. In the meantime, please be assured that healthcare reform will not change our commitment to providing competitive and cost-effective benefits that support your health and wellness—today and in the future. We will continue to keep the Penn community informed as new information becomes available.

—Division of Human Resources

Almanac - May 4, 2010, Volume 56, No. 32