Health Benefits Review


On August 1, 2019, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved the creation of a new health plan to be offered in addition to UIChoice at the University of Iowa.

The new health plan is designed to accommodate employees who want more control over health-related expenses, and it responds to campus feedback indicating a desire for more choice among health plans. Members of the new plan would pay lower monthly premiums than in UIChoice, but if they use their coverage, they would pay a higher portion of the cost for services.

The new health plan was one of several recommendations made by a campus advisory committee and voted on by the university’s Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee after a review of university health benefits. The new plan and the committee’s other recommendations will take effect January 1, 2020.

University Human Resources (UHR) will communicate these changes to campus over the course of fall 2019, publish educational materials on the new plan offerings in late August, provide informational sessions in October, and offer a special extended open enrollment (October 23 to November 15) to help employees make informed benefits choices. During open enrollment, the University Benefits Office will offer open office hours all over campus to answer questions.

The advisory committee’s recommendations also include adjusting the cost-share for the employee only and double spouse family options under UIChoice while maintaining a free option for these groups in the new plan.

UIChoice coverage will not change, and many services that are currently free in UIChoice, such as generic prescription drugs, preventative exams, and immunizations, will also be free in the new plan.

More details about the recommended changes are available in this FAQ.

The last review of the university’s health benefits structure for faculty and staff was conducted in 2009-2010. Since then, a number of changes occurred in the health care industry and in federal legislation. Within the UI environment, the most recent change is the transition of AFSCME covered Merit staff to university self-funded health plans. Given these factors, UHR led a health benefits review.

The review focused on developing the university's benefits philosophy, guiding principles, and a plan design that provides high-quality benefits, supports recruitment and retention of faculty and staff, and is financially sustainable for the institution. The review’s guiding principles emphasized choice, flexibility, high quality, and support for recruitment and retention.

Review Process and Recommendations

UHR formed a stakeholder advisory committee in November 2017 and conducted monthly meetings to consider and discuss information related to university health and dental benefits. In early spring 2019, the advisory committee drafted recommendations concerning the university's health benefit design.

In composing these recommendations, the advisory committee consulted a faculty/staff survey, market data and actuarial analysis provided through expert consultation, and the Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee (FRIC), a presidential charter committee that advises on benefits. FRIC was in support of the recommendations and voted in favor of the new health plan in June 2019.

The advisory committee's recommendations include expanding health plan options so that employees may choose the best plan for their individual and family needs. The recommendations also include adjusting cost-share in the current UI plans for employee only and double spouse family while maintaining a free option for these groups in a new plan. Lastly, the recommendations ask the university to pursue greater financial efficiency and ensure access to health care providers.

UHR presented these recommendations for feedback to Staff Council and Faculty Senate in spring 2019. In summer 2019, university executive leadership submitted to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa the recommendations related to the new health plan and cost-share changes for UIChoice employee only and double spouse family options. The Regents gave approval on August 1, 2019.

All recommended changes to university offered health plans will go into effect in 2020, and UHR will communicate the changes to all benefit eligible employees through multiple campus channels. Open Enrollment will be extended and UHR will offer educational materials and informational sessions to inform plan selection.

Read the announcement about sharing the recommendations with shared governance for feedback published March 7, 2019.

Read the complete Health Benefits Review Recommendations (pdf) submitted by the advisory committee.

Faculty and Staff Survey

Faculty and staff who were eligible for university health benefits were invited to provide feedback on their satisfaction with and preferences regarding health benefit offerings. University Human Resources conducted the survey via email in fall 2018 from September 5 through 19 using Qualtrics.

Survey results guided the review's stakeholder advisory committee as it developed recommendations about university health benefit offerings.

For more information, read the summary of results

Questions about the survey should be directed to

Frequently Asked Questions

After sharing draft recommendations to shared governance for feedback in spring 2019, University Human Resources compiled an FAQ on the draft recommendations and the review process, which is available to the public on the University Human Resources website.

Read through the FAQ here

Stakeholder Advisory Committee Membership:

Joni Troester
Committee Chair, Assistant Vice President for Total Rewards, University Human Resources

Cheryl Reardon
Chief Human Resources Officer, University Human Resources

Rebecca Olson
Director of Benefits, University Human Resources

Susan Klatt
Director Financial Management and Budget and University Secretary

Jon Garfinkel
Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee, co-chair for faculty, Professor of Finance, Tippie College of Business

Nancy Davin
Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee, co-chair for staff, Program Coordinator, College of Nursing

Katherine Tachau
Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee, faculty member, Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Michael Schueller
Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee, staff member, Assistant Director of Environmental Operations, State Hygienic Laboratory

Carroll Reasoner
Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel

Jana Wessels
Associate Vice President for Human Resources, UI Health Care

Doug Van Daele
Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, UI Physician Group, UI Health Care

Daniel Fick
Campus Health Officer

Julie Hostager
Support Staff, Office of Student Financial Aid, Merit staff member

Quintin Bryant
Clerk IV, Engineering Services, UI Health Care, Merit staff member

Barbara Van Gorp
Clinical Specialist, Rehabilitation Therapies, UI Health Care, SEIU staff member

Advisory Group Support
Cristóbal McKinney
Office of Strategic Communications

Cheri Smith
University Human Resources


Health benefit structures are complex and must consider many factors, including the population being insured, utilization patterns of that population, compliance requirements, and legal aspects. To assist with the review process, the university worked with the human resources consulting firm Aon, which provided expert third-party analysis of the university’s health benefit structure and plan design.

Aon provided actuarial review, collected peer benchmarking comparison data, and assured compliance with all required regulations relative to the review and recommendations. The university has previously worked with the firm on projects related to benefits administration.

General Timeline*

November 2017 Initiate Review
Spring 2018 Develop survey and review benchmarking 
Summer 2018 Review actuarial models
September 5 - 19, 2018  Conduct faculty / staff survey
Spring 2019 Discuss and submit final recommendations
August 1, 2019 Board of Regents, State of Iowa approve the recommended
new health plan design
Fall 2019

University Human Resources communicates with all benefit
eligible employees through multiple channels, educating them
about the new plan options and offering extended open enrollment
as well as special informational sessions on making health plan

September / October 2019 Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee makes recommendations
on insurance rates for 2020 to executive leadership for final approval,
after which rates are communicated to campus
October 23 - November 15, 2019 Special Extended Open Enrollment
January 1, 2020 New health plan and other recommended changes come into effect

The earliest implementation of any new health plan offerings would be plan year 2020.
* This timeline was updated August 1, 2019. 

Contact us


Contact Information

University Benefits

Campus Address
120 USB
Mailing Address

120 University Services Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States

Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.