Faculty health plan denied

Insurance will not cover vision care

An attempt to include vision care in faculties' health plans died in a University Senate council after members looked at Ball State's escalating insurance premiums and dwindling state financial assistance.

Professor Mark Popovich, who asked the Senate to consider the benefit, said council members did not see the situation clearly.

"I think in a university community, where people are paid to read, your most important assets are your eyes," Popovich said. "The state's financial crisis is really expedient...but it really is an injustice.

"I don't know if that's a legitimate excuse or not. Why is there such reluctance to fund, or at least allow faculty to have access to, an eye plan?"

Popovich, who proposed his idea to the Professional Affairs Council this Spring, wanted the university to fund eye care on a yearly basis and make it easier to purchase contacts or glasses.

"I think about it every time I get a pair of glasses or an operation," Popovich said. "It seemed like they just dismissed it outright."

Council members, however, voted unanimously against the motion, said Shirley Weber, the council's chairwoman, because faculty support was missing.

By deterring Popovich's proposal, Monday, the University Senate's Professional Affairs Council spared the university an estimated $500,000 to a $1 million in additional premiums, said Bill McCune, the associate vice president and controller of business services.

Premiums have already ballooned by 24 percent this fiscal year due to burgeoning claims and the faculty did not welcome an additional $500,000 to $1,000,000 - which would have comprised about an additional two percent increase, McCune said.

"People weren't really cheering when they heard about the 24 percent," he said. "It sounds like an installment plan for glasses."

Ball State, operating under its own plan, pays 80 percent of employees' claims and 75 percent of their premiums from the university's general fund, primarily comprised from tuition and state funding.

Last year, Ball State allotted more than $20 million to pay for insurance.

All state employees, excluding university employees, receive eye care with their benefits package. Indiana State University offers the insurance through a national company, and Purdue pays for eye exams once every 12 months, new lenses once every 12 months and new frames once every 24 months.

Indiana University and the University of Southern Indiana did not list any vision benefits on their Web sites, and no one in the human resources office was available for comment.


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