Health Benefits and Prescription Drug Benefits

Medical Benefits

The University offers benefits-eligible employees three health plan options: SUBlue, SUOrange and SUPro. Please visit the health plan webpage for additional information on member cost sharing and plan design.

All three options include medical coverage administered by Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield (BCBS) and prescription drug coverage through OptumRx. In general, the same services are covered under all three plans, but with a different deductible and copay/coinsurance structure. For 2021, there will be no increases in copays or coinsurance for SUBlue, SUOrange or SUPro. There will be a routine increase to the in-network deductibles for SUBlue and SUOrange of $50 for both individual and family coverage.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, the University’s health plan will change in the following ways, subject to applicable cost share:

  • The University has previously covered all in-network preventive mammograms in full. As of Jan. 1, 2021, full coverage will be expanded to include all in-network preventive and diagnostic breast cancer screenings.
  • COVID-19 testing will continue to be covered in full to ensure health plan members have access through the health plan.
  • In response to the global health emergency, telemedicine and telehealth coverage was introduced to ensure members had access to care. These services will continue to be provided, including both provider-facilitated telemedicine coverage as well as telehealth through MDLIVE, at the equivalent cost sharing associated with in-person visits.
  • OptumRx regularly evaluates and makes changes to the prescription drug formulary and programs that focus on safety and proper usage of certain prescriptions. If there are changes that may impact you, OptumRx will notify you prior to Jan. 1 with additional information.

Reference the Coverage Examples Guide [PDF] or the Schedule of Benefits documents to see, in general, how the deductible and copay/coinsurance are applied to certain services for SUBlue, SUOrange and SUPro.

The University strives to keep benefit costs affordable and this year will continue to hold employee health plan contribution increases below national health trends. As a reminder, the University provides a subsidy to assist approved employees with lowering their health plan contributions. Applications for reduced health plan contributions are due by Dec. 4.

Your personalized per-paycheck contribution can be viewed in MySlice when you are enrolling as well as on your Open Enrollment confirmation form.

For 2021, there will be no increases in copays or coinsurance for SUBlue, SUOrange or SUPro. There will be a routine increase to the in-network deductibles for SUBlue and SUOrange of $50 for both individual and family coverage.

The following table highlights some key differences among the three plan options:

SUBlue SUOrange SUPro
Network coverage Provides in-network and out-of-network coverage Provides in-network coverage only Provides in-network and out-of-network coverage
Referrals Not required Not required Not required
Your cost when you use an in-network provider Generally deductible and copays Generally deductible and copays Generally deductible and coinsurance
Schedule of benefits document SUBlue [PDF] SUOrange [PDF] SUPro [PDF]

A deductible is a dollar amount members pay toward covered medical care each year before their health plan begins to pay for covered medical expenses. For 2021, SUBlue and SUOrange plans will have an annual in-network deductible of $150 per person with a maximum of $300 for a family. The SUPro plan has an annual in-network deductible of $200 per person with a maximum of $400 for a family. Once the annual deductible(s) are met, eligible in-network services for the remainder of the year will be covered at the copay and/or coinsurance percentage that applies to that service.

Employees are encouraged to examine the best benefit plan for their needs. Reference the Coverage Examples Guide [PDF] or the Schedule of Benefits documents to see, in general, how the deductible and copay/coinsurance are applied to certain services for SUBlue, SUOrange and SUPro.

The University offers three health plan options to benefits-eligible employees: SUBlue, SUOrange and SUPro. All three plan options include medical benefits administered by Excellus BCBS. Prescription drug benefits are administered by OptumRx.

The same health care services are covered under SUBlue, SUOrange and SUPro, but your share of the cost will be different. For a high level overview, please review At a Glance: A Comparison of Health Care Plans [PDF] which highlights frequently used services and their associated costs.

Yes, you can access the Excellus BCBS online provider directory to view doctors, hospitals and other facilities that participate with the network.  Note: For best results, register an account with ExcellusBCBS.com and log in for a personalized search based on your location and Plan information.

Follow these steps to assist with your search:

On the top blue menu bar, click on “Find a Doctor”, then:

  • Choose “Find a Doctor, Provider or Facility”

Select your provider’s location:

  • Local/National Search
    • Choose I’m a Member or I’m a Guest to start search.
    • If using ‘Guest search’ make sure you adjust your Current Location on the top navigation bar to the area in which you are searching for a provider.
    • Complete the identified steps to narrow your search.
  • Global Provider

When searching for International Network providers:

    • Review and accept the terms and conditions for using the website.
    • You will be asked to enter the first three letters of your Member I.D. card. Enter VYK.
    • Complete the remaining steps to narrow your search.

You will maximize the value of your benefit when your physician or facility participates in the Excellus BCBS network. If your provider does not participate and you would like Excellus BCBS to attempt to recruit the provider, please contact Excellus at 800.493.0318 (TTY: 800.662.1220). Excellus BCBS will reach out to providers who do not participate with their network and are recommended by Syracuse University’s health plan members.

Yes. Excellus BCBS has a local, DeWitt-based dedicated customer service center for Syracuse University. These experienced representatives are well-versed in the University’s plan designs, and are ready to assist you with any health plan questions that you may have.  The phone number and hours of operation are 800.493.0318 (TTY: 800.662.1220), Monday through Thursday: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Should you have any questions regarding prescription drug coverage, please contact OptumRx at 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711). They are available 24/7.

The monthly costs are based on the 12-month calendar year. Actual deductions from each paycheck will vary depending upon your deduction cycle (e.g., weekly vs. semi-monthly, academic year vs. calendar year).

Qualifying for Reduced Medical Contributions: Schedule B
Depending on your household income and size, you may be eligible for lower medical contributions. Certain employees specified by a collective bargaining agreement automatically qualify for Schedule B rates. Please review the chart below. If you think you may qualify, the Schedule B application will need to be completed and returned to HR Shared Services by Dec. 4.

Household SizeHousehold Income
1Less than $39,000
2Less than $52,000
3Less than $66,000
4 and upLess than $80,000

Paycheck deductions for faculty and staff who work during the academic year are taken over nine months rather than twelve months. The accelerated deductions for these individuals cover the summer months when deductions are not taken but benefits continue. The same total dollar amount is charged to all faculty and staff over the course of the year.

Each month, you will receive a Monthly Health Statement, which shows the claims that Excellus BCBS has processed for you and your family for the previous month. Your Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) are available online, unless you specifically request a paper copy from your dedicated customer service representative. As an exception, if you receive care from a non-participating provider, you will automatically receive an EOB at your home address recorded in MySlice.

Medical Plan:
You will receive a welcome packet at the permanent address you have on file with the University as recorded in MySlice, which will include two member ID cards with your name on both. In addition, each dependent who is over the age of 18 and is enrolled under your plan will also receive a welcome packet with two member ID cards at their home address as recorded in MySlice. If you cover any dependents under the age of 18, please provide your ID card to their provider when they seek services.

If you wish to obtain additional member ID cards, contact our dedicated Excellus customer service center at 800.493.0318 (TTY: 800.662.1220). Once your coverage is active, you may also view your ID card online on Excellus BCBS's website or by downloading the Excellus BCBS app.

Prescription Drug Plan:
You will receive a welcome packet from OptumRx to your permanent home address you have on file with the University as recorded in MySlice, which will include two member ID cards with only the subscriber’s name on both.

If you wish to obtain additional member ID cards, contact OptumRx at 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711). Once your coverage is active, you may also view your ID card online on OptumRx's website or by downloading the OptumRx app. Also included in the welcome packet will be an enrollment form for OptumRx Home Delivery, which will allow you to receive your medications in the mail for up to a 90-day supply.

Prescription Drug Benefits

formulary is a list of the drugs OptumRx has selected as the preferred medication(s) in each drug class based on their safety, efficacy and cost. A drug can be placed on one of three tiers. A drug that is excluded is not eligible for any plan coverage. Talk with your prescriber about covered alternatives for excluded drugs to avoid paying full retail price.

A formulary can be updated at any time, especially as new drugs are introduced to the market and generic equivalents become available for brand-name drugs. This can affect your share of the cost. You can search OptumRx’s online formulary when you log into the secure member website. You can also call to speak with an OptumRx member services representative, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711).

If you are impacted by any prescription drug formulary change or program that targets safety and proper usage of certain drugs, you will be notified by OptumRx prior to Jan. 1 with additional details.

Generic medications are FDA-approved drugs that contain the identical active ingredient in the same strength as the brand-name drug. Generic drugs must meet the same standards for safety, purity, potency and quality as the branded drug, but are priced lower than the brand-name product. To encourage the use of generics, if a generic is available and you or your doctor choose to get the brand name drug (by checking the “Dispense as Written” box on the prescription), you will pay the generic copay plus the difference between the brand name drug cost and the generic drug cost.

If you take certain medications on a daily basis, you may wish to fill those prescriptions using home delivery, which offers convenient mail order service with free standard shipping. Enroll in home delivery on the OptumRx secure member website . Orders are generally received within 14 days.

When you use home delivery, the mail-order cost sharing applies, which may be a lower cost to you than filling a prescription at a retail pharmacy. Savings vary for each medication and are not guaranteed.

Use the OptumRx Home Delivery Order Form [PDF] to mail in prescriptions and payment to OptumRx. Your health care provider can also e-prescribe or fax prescriptions on your behalf.

NOTE: You can fill up to a 90-day supply of medication either at a retail pharmacy or through OptumRx Home Delivery. When you use home delivery, the mail-order cost sharing applies, which may result in considerable savings over your cost at a retail pharmacy. Savings vary for each medication and savings are not guaranteed. Use the Price and Save tool on the OptumRx website, or call OptumRx Member Services at 866.854.2945 (TTY: 711) to determine which method is best for each drug you take.

Specialty medications are those that treat serious chronic conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Specialty medications often require special handling or refrigeration, and may be self-injected rather than taken orally. You will need to obtain your specialty drugs through the Optum Specialty Pharmacy which is a mail-order pharmacy that focuses on providing you with the best possible care while you receive treatment with a specialty medication. Please contact Optum at 844.265.1761 (TTY: 711) to set up your account and coordinate delivery of your medication.


Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained within this website is accurate. However, benefits are governed by legal documents (which, in certain circumstances, may include insurance contracts). If there is any difference between the information on this website and the official documents, the official documents will control. As is the case with all of Syracuse University’s benefit plans, the University reserves the right to modify or terminate these benefits at any time.