Medical Plans

New Options for 2018

For 2018, you will have four high-deductible health plan options that all offer access to a Health Savings Account (HSA) for tax-free health care spending. If you are not eligible to open an HSA, or choose not to, you may enroll in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) instead.

Higher HSA company contribution! Windstream has increased the company contribution to your HSA for 2018 – you will receive $600 deposited in prorated, tax-free amounts each pay period. If you are unable to enroll in an HSA, you will receive a $500 tax-free contribution to a Health Care FSA account.

Compared to the 2017 Windstream medical plan options, these plans are similar in design but offer you additional choice of carriers and cost.

What is included?

All of Windstream’s medical plans include:

Your choice of carriers. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) or UMR. In each state, one carrier will have a lower cost than the other. This represents the larger discount that doctors and facilities have with one carrier over the other in a given state. The plan features with each carrier are the same.

Prescription drug coverage. Coverage for prescription medications comes with each plan and is provided by Express Scripts.

Free in-network preventive care. Services like annual physicals, immunizations and routine cancer screenings are fully covered at 100%. That means you pay nothing.

Annual deductible. You pay for initial medical and prescription drug costs until you meet your annual deductible.

Coinsurance. After meeting your deductible, you pay a small percentage of eligible costs through coinsurance, then the plan pays the rest.

Keep in mind: With the $1,850 Deductible Plan, coinsurance for any person covered under an employee plus dependent plan begins only after the entire family deductible has been met.

Tax-saving opportunity. If eligible, you can contribute to an HSA on a before-tax basis to help pay for your eligible out-of-pocket health care costs – in 2018 or in the future. Your HSA funds roll over year after year; they are always yours to keep! And, Windstream will contribute up to $600 tax-free to your HSA, deposited over the course of the year (per pay period). If you enroll in a high-deductible health plan and you do not meet the HSA eligibility requirements, or choose not to enroll in one, Windstream will contribute up to $500 tax-free to a Health Care FSA. The IRS limits employer contributions to a Health Care FSA to $500.

Out-of-pocket maximum. Each plan protects you by capping the total amount you will pay each year for medical care. Once you meet your out-of-pocket maximum, the plan pays 100% of your eligible expenses for the rest of the year. Medical premiums are not included in the out-of-pocket maximum.

Health advocacy. Get free, personalized assistance to help you navigate the health care system, from understanding claims to choosing providers and negotiating fees. Available to you and your family members effective Jan. 1, 2018, this service can save you time and money.

Compare the plans

All plans are offered through your choice of Blue Cross Blue Shield or UMR. In each state, one carrier has a lower cost than the other, referred to as Carrier 1. This represents the larger discount that doctors and facilities have with one carrier over the other in a state. No matter which Windstream medical plan you choose, the benefits covered by each option are the same. All plans cover in-network preventive care such as blood pressure and cholesterol tests, mammograms, colonoscopies, screenings for osteoporosis, vaccines and well-woman visits — all at no cost to you! Be sure to follow the recommended age guidelines outlined in the medical summary plan description when scheduling your preventive care.

Compare Your Costs

Comparing your 2017 and 2018 medical plan options

With the new range of medical plan options available for 2018, you may have the option to pay a higher annual premium for a lower deductible plan in 2018 or choose a lower annual premium for a higher deductible plan than available in 2017.  Compared to our most common plan (the 2017 Consumer 5000 Plan with a $2,000 deductible), moving to the $1,850 Deductible Plan would increase your premiums and lower your deductible, while moving to the $2,850 Deductible Plan would lower your premiums and increase your deductible.

Spousal Surcharge

When reviewing the costs for medical coverage, keep in mind that Windstream has a spousal surcharge of $100 per month. The spousal surcharge is applied if your spouse has coverage available through his/her employer but chooses to be on a Windstream medical plan. If your spouse is not offered coverage through his/her employer or is not employed, the surcharge does not apply. If your spouse is employed by Windstream, the surcharge also does not apply.

Tobacco use surcharge

In addition, a $50 monthly surcharge will be applied to employees and spouses who use tobacco products. During Annual Enrollment, you will be asked to attest to your and your enrolled spouse’s tobacco status. By completing the tobacco cessation program described on page 8, the surcharge can be stopped and removed prospectively during the year by calling 866.553.9409.

What to expect when you go to the doctor

Your doctor will ask to see your new card on your first visit. The office will bill your insurance for your visit, and you will get a statement showing the cost of the visit that will be applied toward your deductible and the discount applied. Your doctor will send you a bill for the balance. You will be responsible for the full-cost until your deductible is met. Your doctor may bill you up-front if your deductible hasn’t been satisfied. Here’s how it works.

Be prepared. Not all hospitals and surgeons charge the same price for the same services. If you anticipate extensive medical care or are planning an elective surgery, you can review the average cost of most services, and the quality of the facilities before you make an appointment. Take advantage of Health Advocate services by calling 866.553.9409.

No matter which medical plan you choose, the benefits covered by each option are the same, and each offers the same large network of providers. Through these plans you are eligible for preventive care such as blood pressure and cholesterol tests, mammograms, colonoscopies, screenings for osteoporosis, vaccines and well-woman visits – all at no cost to you! Be sure you use an in-network provider and follow the recommended age guidelines outlined in the medical summary plan description when scheduling your preventive care.

Enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA) for additional financial protection

While getting preventive care and doing your best to stay healthy are important first steps toward keeping medical costs down, anyone can face unavoidable health conditions and expenses. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. A Health Savings Account (HSA) offers an opportunity to save tax-free today so you’ll be prepared in the future. An HSA is a unique account type permitted by the IRS that can be used with Windstream’s medical plans. In addition to having pre-tax contributions, earnings are also tax-free, and the use of funds for qualified medical expenses is not taxable income. It’s a triple win from a tax standpoint! See the My Wealth section for more detail.

Medical Plan Terms You Need to Know 

Coinsurance – Your share of the costs after the deductible is met. You may receive an added coinsurance benefit for preventive prescriptions. See description below.

Deductible – The amount you owe before your health insurance plan begins to pay. The deductible may not apply to all services.

Embedded Deductible – For all plans except the $1,850 Deductible Plan, this is equal to the employee only plan deductible for any covered person on an employee + family member plan. This means a single member of your family can meet the embedded deductible and enter the coinsurance phase without all covered members reaching the full plan deductible.

In-Network – A provider who has a contract with your health insurer or plan to provide services or prescriptions to you at a discount. You will likely pay extra for out-of-network usage and can be billed the balance by
the provider.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum – The most you pay during the year before Windstream begins to pay 100% of the allowed amount.

Preventive Medical Care – Windstream health plans cover a set of preventive services at no cost to you even if you haven’t met your deductible. Covered preventive care services include biometric screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies, vaccines, well-woman and well-child visits. Be sure to follow the recommended age guidelines outlined in the medical summary plan description when scheduling your preventive care. For a complete list, visit healthcare.gov/coverage/preventive-care-benefits.

Preventive Prescription Drugs – Certain medications are defined by the IRS as preventive. A complete preventive medication list is available on the Prescription Drug Program page. Preventive prescription medications are available at a coinsurance rate whether or not you have met the deductible on all plans.

New Voluntary Insurance Options Through AETNA

Windstream has partnered with Aetna to offer you supplemental medical insurance to help protect you from some expenses, which may not be covered by your primary medical plan. Your 2018 supplemental medical options will include the addition of hospital indemnity insurance.

New for Windstream! Hospital indemnity insurance provides cash payments for hospital stays (due to childbirth, sickness, injury, etc.) that you can use to cover expenses that your medical plan does not cover, such as deductibles, coinsurance and other out-of-pocket costs.

Accident insurance provides cash benefits in cases of eligible accidental injuries to help pay for uncovered medical expenses, such as your deductible or coinsurance, or for ongoing living expenses.

Critical illness insurance protects against the financial impact of certain illnesses, such as a heart attack or cancer. You receive a lump-sum benefit, which can be used to pay for your treatment costs or for everyday living expenses like housekeeping services, special transportation services and day care.