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Tuesday, January 9, 1996

It's not snowing . . . much

Southern Ontario continues to escape the blizzard that has swept across the eastern United States over the past two days, making news in every field, including higher education. Dozens of colleges and universities were shut down yesterday -- and it would have been worse except that many institutions are still in the middle of the January break between semesters. "Stay off the roadway Monday and use Tuesday for a travel day," said a recorded message at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where the new term was supposed to start yesterday.

In downtown Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania is closed for the second day in a row today, and emergency news is being distributed through an optimistic phone number: 898-MELT.

Details on health benefits

Staff and faculty will be getting "pay-direct" and "travel assistance" cards in the mail this week. At least, those who have filled out their enrolment forms for Prudential Insurance Co. of America will be getting them. Prudential took over the employee extended health program for UW as of January 1.

Sandie Hurlburt of the human resources department explains how the plan works, with changes that were approved last fall:

Your pharmacist will enter your numbers from the pay-direct card a nd electronically bill Prudential for 80% of the cost of the eligible prescription drugs; you must pay the pharmacist the other 20%. After you have reached your out-of-pocket cap ($100 single/$200 family per calendar year), the plan will pay 100% of the cost of drugs for the rest of the calendar year. (The out-of-pocket cap applies to both prescriptions and paramedical services.) If your pharmacy does not have pay-direct capabilities, you can use a Prudential claim form to seek reimbursement. The Prudential claim forms will be available early in 1996.

A Preferred Provider Network (PPN) has been established with local pharmacies. The use of pharmacies in the PPN is voluntary; you save money and the costs to the health plan are also less.

A list of the "preferred provider" pharmacies is being sent out along with the pay-direct card.

Hurlburt adds: "If you have any medical claims up to December 31, 1995, you must submit them on a Liberty Health claim form no later than February 29, 1996. Prudential is not responsible for any claims incurred prior to January 1, 1996."

Notes for (mostly) students

A couple of highlights:

Meeting on faculty unionization

The faculty association holds its open meeting about union certification tomorrow afternoon -- from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Physics room 145. Everybody, members and non-members alike, is welcome.

"The UW faculty's upcoming decision on certification could lead to fundamental changes in the governance of our university which could have a substantial impact on the day-to-day work of faculty," one professor told me in a memo this week. "The meeting of January 10 will provide an opportunity for open debate among all faculty before any card-signing process begins. Come out and participate in this critical discussion."

And that's it for today

Except, of course, that I want to wish a happy birthday to Gail Cuthbert Brandt, principal of Renison College!

Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004

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