Letter to the Editor
April 30, 2008
In February we were informed of a decision agreed to by the USNH Board of
Trustees regarding the offering of a HRA (Heath Reimbursement Account) for
Sounds like a pretty good deal on the surface... $500 every year into an account
that rolls over year to year, for spending on non-premium related health costs.
Since I wear glasses, and we have no insurance that covers the cost of glasses
(I'm not talking about the little discounts on glasses we get here and there),
this would be easily spent by me, assuming that would
be a qualifying expense. But combined with an HMO or POS health plan, and if
one has a FSA, it may only be of value to a small percentage of staff.
I have since learned something about HRA's. They're like this new innovative
way to handle our crazy rising health care costs and are especially useful
at containing costs for employers when combined with a HDHP (High Deductible
Also, from what I understand, there is a lot of flexibility for the employer
in regards to what it covers; it sounds like they can pretty well pick and
choose what they can put in the plan (within IRS rules of course), and can
even make it so a retiree can use it for medical costs once they retire --
but I think that's up to the employer. Sounds pretty exciting if what's put
in place is to my advantage.
A question pops into my mind though: Could it possibly mean that our current
selection of health care choices, specifically the HMO and POS plans, will
no longer be offered in the future? Wow, that's a little scary.
But we don't really know. We (staff) just don't know what to expect or what
we'll get, or how it will help us as individual workers. We don't know from
one year to the next what will be presented to us for salary or benefits. And
when it is given to us, that’s exactly how it happens.
There is a way we could know. There is a way that we could affect how this
comes down the pike in the future, as well as any other new and innovated ideas
that come along to contain costs, because keeping costs down is in everyone's
We could be immediately In-The-Know, as well as have a real affect on the
outcome of future decisions. We could partner with the university, working
as the law allows, as a team with our administration, to make the decisions
that affect our lives. Not in an advisory capacity.
If you haven't already, I urge you to sign a card to bring the AFSCME (American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) to UNH. Do it today.
And when you sign a card, if you haven't already, you will be among others
who are your co-workers, colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors; our community.
We can gain the security that comes by standing together, organizing together,
and having a say in the decisions being made because the law allows us to have
a voice. The law allows us to join together for an employment contract that
suits us all.
Office of Sponsored Research
17+ years at UNH
P.S. The HRA issue above is just one example of what our local union, composed
of unh staff, would have a say in, by working directly with the decision making
bodies of USNH.