CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) believes choosing and managing health care and insurance benefits should be a much easier task for the bank's associates and the company. The bank is taking steps to improve service, reduce paperwork and costs, and give associates more flexibility in the way they choose and pay for health care.
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The bank will consolidate health and insurance benefits under one carrier; simplify its medical plans; give the majority of plan participants new, company-funded health care accounts to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses; and offer improved financial support for new parents, child care and ongoing education beginning in 2009.
"Bank of America is committed to helping our associates and their families receive the health and life management benefits they need," said Steele Alphin, Bank of America chief administrative officer. "Our new programs are responsive to their feedback, help Bank of America and our associates better manage the cost of health care and provide added financial support through improved parental leave, childcare and tuition programs."
Aetna (NYSE: AET) will be the primary provider of health and insurance benefits for Bank of America beginning January 1, 2009, and manage delivery of medical, dental, vision, leaves of absence, disability and life insurance programs for active and eligible U.S.-based associates and expatriates. Alphin said having one national carrier will drive better integration, simplicity and efficiency for the bank and associates, and enable the bank to preserve existing programs and offer new and enhanced benefits to associates.
"Aetna is proud to expand our partnership with Bank of America and its associate base on individual and family health care needs," said Aetna President Mark T. Bertolini. "We look forward to working with plan participants to help them better manage their benefits and create better health outcomes for Bank of America associates and their families."
Bank of America will offer most associates earning less than $100,000 a year a new health care account that provides an additional $600 to $1,200 a year to pay for health care expenses not covered by their medical plan. More than 130,000 of the bank's associates will be eligible to participate. The accounts are in addition to the bank's annual contributions to associates' health care coverage - which pay the majority of the cost of care -- and can be used to pay for current expenses or rolled over from year to year and saved, even into retirement. This new feature is a direct outcome of associate feedback that asked for more flexibility in the way associates pay for health care and more control over the dollars they (and the company) spend for services.
Associates must be covered by a bank plan to qualify for the accounts and the amount received depends on how many family members are covered under the Bank of America medical option chosen by the associate, the company said.
Two simplified medical plan options offering features preferred by most associates will be available. The options enable associates to choose how they want to manage their health care budget -- and differ in the amount associates pay for their coverage each pay period and when they receive care.
The company also will provide an additional four weeks of paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave (bringing total paid leave to 12 weeks), and extend eligibility for an enhanced child care reimbursement program (Child Care Plus(R)) to an additional 44,000 eligible associates. Nearly 150,000 associates in all will have the opportunity to participate in Child Care Plus in 2009 and reimbursement rates will increase 35%.
Finally, tuition reimbursement benefits for job- and degree-related coursework will grow by as much as $3,250 a year to a maximum of $5,250.
"We've developed this innovative partnership with Aetna to drive better support - and better health and life outcomes - for our associates," added Alphin.
Bank of America conducted an extensive review of its benefit programs, talked to associates about their needs, studied market trends and analyzed benefit usage habits before making the design changes. Associates will enroll in the new plans during annual enrollment in October of this year before the changes take effect January 1, 2009.
Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk-management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving more than 59 million consumer and small business relationships with more than 6,100 retail banking offices, nearly 19,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with nearly 24 million active users. Bank of America is the No. 1 overall Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in the United States and the No. 1 SBA lender to minority-owned small businesses. The company serves clients in 175 countries and has relationships with 99 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 83 percent of the Global Fortune 500. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.7 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates.
SOURCE Bank of America