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AVEK Board Members approved a $200 increase for the Agency’s 2021 annual contribution toward the Health Savings Accounts for each eligible participant enrolled in a Consumer Driven Health Plan.

Directors took that action at their September 22 board meeting after hearing a presentation on the agenda item from AVEK Assistant General Manager Matt Knudson. He said that in 2018, AVEK added to its Employee Benefits Package the Consumer Driven Health Plans, CDHP combined with the Health Savings Accounts, HSA.

Employees who chose the CDHP received a contribution from AVEK into their HSA to offset their higher deductible. While employees benefit by having the cost of their deductible offset, the Agency also saves money for each participant that goes with the CDHP.

From 2019 to 2020, the Agency increased its contribution to CDHP participants by $200 for each available plan. At that time, the agency increased its number of participants by seven, which resulted in an additional savings to AVEK of $9,251.76, or an average of $1,321.68 per participant.

Open enrollment runs from October 1 to October 30, according to Office and HR Manager Patti Rose.

Employees who switched from AVEK’s older, existing health plan, expressed their satisfaction with the new health care program.

Taylor Dranow, a senior laboratory technician, said he signed up for the CDHP/HSA plan at the beginning of this year.

“I had the other plan and switched to this one because I rarely get sick or go to the doctor. I saw it as an opportunity to save that money and invest it for retirement. I like that I can use the HSA for anything health-related, and that whatever I don’t use can be invested.”

“I have yet to submit a claim for medical expenses. Whenever I get a medical bill of have a health-related expense, I can just use the HSA debit card. This plan is beneficial to me because it gives me the flexibility to use it for medical, dental, chiropractic and other health expenses, as well as for retirement. I have Kaiser because they are pretty much a one-stop shop and if I need outside help, they will refer me. I didn’t want to have to shop around for a provider.”

Patti Rose really values the plan. “I signed up for the Kaiser Consumer Driven health Plan and Health Savings Account in 2018. I like that the employer contribution, which offsets my deductible, is put into an account that I can actually invest and earn interest on the money. Also, what I don’t use on medical expenses rolls over from year to year. It’s like the Agency is paying me to have insurance.”

“I can also use the funds to offset other medical expenses and deductibles such as dental and vision. Amazon even has an HSA website I can go to for over the counter medical items such as vitamins, food supplements, sun protection and exercise equipment. It’s easy to say that I think the Consumer Driven Health Plan is one of the best plans the Agency offers.”

AVEK Executive Assistant Pam Clark also praises the plan. “I switched this year. What I really like about it, typically dental insurance doesn’t cover a lot of costs so there can be high are out-of-pocket expenses. My daughter is getting her wisdom teeth out next month so i'll be able to use that money to help with the costs.”

Pam chose Anthem insurance for herself and her daughter. The CDHP/HSA works with both Anthem and Kaiser, the two companies offered through AVEK.

Diana Mills, AVEK’s clerical assistant whose cheery voice greets callers, said she is considering signing up for the plan, but has not yet made that switch.

What appeals to Diana? “The fact that it can be used as a savings account if you do not go to the doctor a lot, which I do not. I don’t have medical issues. I’ve been told, if you don’t go to the doctor a lot, or use your medical benefits a lot, that money winds up being saved.”

“It doesn’t stop you from going. I think I only went to the doctor once this year.” Although Diana hasn’t committed to the newer plan yet, she said, “I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with it. I’m waiting to see the sign-up start and I want to run it by my husband. I don’t want to change our medical coverage without notifying him. We make decisions together.”

Patti explained that the money not used rolls over and an investment program is attached to the plan. Participants can choose how they want the money invested.

“When you retire, you can use the money tax free,” Patti noted.

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