December 2012

Dec. 16, 2012 -- Health insurance options


Since the number of participants seems to be a major factor in health care costs has the university considered partnering with the State of Alaska or perhaps other universities in the Pacific Northwest? It would seem that a partnership would benefit all parties through increased membership.


From Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits

Self-insurance is usually the best option for a group our size. We pay for our claims and administration of the plans, and maintain control of our plan design. The Joint Health Care Committee had a subcommittee to look into expanding the pool by joining with other groups. The university has also looked into this in the past and has concluded that it would not be beneficial to do so. Complications with funding arrangements, staff benefit rates and contracts with grant-funding agencies all play a part in making this unacceptable.In addition, the other group would have to agree to having UA join them, and so far the State of Alaska has not been open to this idea.

Dec. 16, 2012 -- Popcorn Fridays


Why doesn't the Polar Express office make popcorn on Fridays anymore?


Staff are not available to make popcorn due to a couple of open positions, however any university department or student club can check out the popcorn machine and supplies to make popcorn for staff and students. Please email us at or call 474-7657 to reserve the machine.

Dec. 7, 2012 -- Health care options


Is it true that if the High Deductible Health becomes a Health Savings Account plan that those that do have other coverage (i.e., previously opted out) will not be able to choose this option?  Can employees participate in a HSA if they are also covered under a spouses Flexible Speinding Account? Will this option force all those opt outs to have to choose the higher cost 750 plan?


Response from Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

We won't be changing the current High Deductible Health Plan. We are working to add an additional plan that will qualify for a Health Savings Account because the current plan's design doesn't qualify.

To contribute to an HSA, you must have a qualifying HDHP. This means the pharmacy benefit must be the same as the medical benefit, meaning subject to the medical deductible and coinsurance provisions. Other restrictions on this arrangement are that you cannot be covered by any other insurance plan, including a spouse's plan, TriCare, Medicare, Medicaid, retiree health insurance, etc. You cannot have anything that could provide "first dollar coverage," and that includes a Flexible Spending Account of a spouse.

The Statewide Voice recently published an article of the proposed changes with a focus on Health Savings Accounts. There are several articles in a series there and more information to come.

Dec. 7, 2012 -- Naturally Inspiring campaign


What assessment is going to be done on the new marketing plan to see if it is working with recruitment? Will it ask if the motto "naturally inspiring" actually inspired them to attend our campus?


From Michelle Renfrew, director Marketing and Communications

The naturally inspiring tagline sets the tone for the current campaign which aims to strengthen UAF's reputation with prospective and current students, alumni, donors, research supporters and other advocacy groups.

What it's designed to do is to differentiate UAF from it's competition and inspire prospective students to take notice of the opportunities that are unique to UAF. The commercial concepts, targeted to reach 18-24 year olds, are designed to support our brand promise and encourage students to find out more.

We will be working with Admissions to see if the naturally inspiring tagline and new view book depicting our brand motivates students to apply to UAF. 

Dec. 5, 2012 -- Staff and faculty discount at the UAF Bookstore


Is it true that staff and faculty are supposed to receive at 10% discount on all purchases at the UAF Bookstore? My husband is also a staff member and was told by a Bookstore employee that this has been the policy for some time but that it's not widely advertised or applied. If it's true, we should know about it. Thanks!


Yes, it's true. Faculty and staff do receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases at the UAF Bookstore. However, during the annual customer appreciation sale, Friday, Dec. 7, all customers will receive a 20 percent discount on in-store items. Additionally, if you make a purchase between now and Jan. 2, your receipt will serve as a coupon for a 20 discount on apparel.

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