The Worth of Duke’s Worker Well being Protection

How Duke’s medical advantages defend bodily and monetary well-being

One morning in June 2018, Gordon Wang walked to the J.B. Duke Lodge, he assumed, to offer assist for a Weekend Govt MBA class, one thing he hadn’t finished in months.

As soon as there, he was greeted by smiling colleagues and college students and a banner: “Welcome Again Gordon 2.0!!!”

Overwhelmed with gratitude, Gordon, who months earlier was preventing for his life, could not kind phrases. All that got here had been tears.

The earlier summer time, docs recognized Gordon, an IT analyst for the Fuqua Faculty of Enterprise, with a uncommon autoimmune dysfunction and found a tumor on his thymus gland. He spent the subsequent three months hospitalized, enduring a number of surgical procedures, three weeks in intensive care, and a number of other rounds of radiation therapy.

As soon as dwelling in Durham, Gordon, in his early 50s, wanted months of bodily remedy to stroll once more. With out household close by, his colleagues at Fuqua, the place he is labored since 1996, turned one. They took turns mowing his garden, organized a blood drive in his honor, and delivered months of home-cooked meals like barbecue and spaghetti and meatballs.

“Not many individuals undergo experiences like this,” Gordon stated. “I used to be extremely fortunate.”

He misplaced depend of tangible figures however is aware of his hospital keep in 2017 value greater than $1.5 million. Along with his insurance coverage plan by means of Duke, he solely paid a $600 co-pay for the inpatient admission.

“I used to be afraid that I used to be going to be hit with some invoice that may wipe out my financial savings,” he stated. “This saved my monetary life.”

Within the wake of inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke’s worker medical insurance policy safeguard bodily and monetary well being and defend what issues most. Employees and college medical plans stay exceedingly common, as round 90 p.c of eligible people select to enroll, increased than the 77 p.c common for employers in training, in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Previously fiscal yr, Duke paid $302 million for well being considerations of individuals, up $14 million from the earlier yr. That features $25 million for most cancers therapies, the third largest class for spending. The biggest was musculoskeletal considerations, which embrace arthritis.

Gordon Wang In 2023, insurance coverage premiums stay aggressive amongst friends with month-to-month premiums for Duke’s hottest plan, Duke Choose, rising $5 for people and $31 for households.

“At Duke we’re continuously making an attempt to make sure that our advantages plans do not solely match the wants of deliberate life adjustments, but in addition assist you and your family members once you face an surprising occasion,” stated Duke Interim Vice President for Human Assets Antwan Lofton. “And whereas we’re not charging as a lot as our trade friends are charging, we’re providing a advantages bundle that is a lot richer than what our friends are providing.”

With open enrollment for medical, dental and imaginative and prescient protection working from October 17 to October 28, colleagues share how their Duke medical insurance profit saved them from a well being and monetary disaster.


Stephanie Roberson credits Duke's medical insurance for keeping her diabetes care affordable.

‘It Saved My Life’

Stephanie Roberson stood on the CVS Pharmacy counter with an unattainable resolution to make in 2018. A Sort 1 diabetic since age 6, she began to cry.

She could not afford lease, groceries, and a weekly provide of insulin, which value $300 by means of her former employer’s insurance coverage plan. She defined her predicament to the pharmacist, a stranger who paid for half of the prescription.

“I usually needed to both purchase my insulin and go with out meals or vice versa,” stated Stephanie, 28. “I ended up within the hospital in diabetic ketoacidosis for 5 days with a 1,000-blood sugar studying as a result of I used to be making an attempt to stretch my insulin.”

That day was a breaking level for Stephanie, who had a $13,000 deductible beneath her former employer’s plan. She determined to seek for a job with a profit plan that prioritized an individual’s well being. Later in 2018, she landed a job at Duke, and he or she’s been enrolled within the Duke Choose well being plan since.

“I really consider it saved my life, as so many individuals die as a result of they can not afford their insulin and so they stretch it,” stated Stephanie, a monetary care counselor for Duke Bodily and Occupational Remedy of Knightdale.

In 2021, Duke paid $11.8 million to cowl care and pharmacy prices for 4,360 employees and college and their dependents for therapy of diabetes.

Stephanie, who now pays $50 every month for drugs, obtained married and was capable of afford a home in Rocky Mount.

“I haven’t got to emphasize about if I ought to spend my cash on my insulin or meals,” she stated. “I’m grateful for Duke and the medical insurance coverage they supply every single day.”


Zach Smith and his wife Honor cover their health care needs, and those of their children, from left to right, Thomas, Fritz, and David, with Duke’s employee medical benefits.

Safety for the Surprising

Zach Smith, a grants and contracts administrator for the Duke Coronary heart Heart, is aware of he is obtained to maintain his head on a swivel for his son, Fritz. Because the youngest of three boys, Fritz, who turns 2 in December, is not afraid of a lot.

“He does not know his limits,” Zach stated. “You possibly can’t sit right down to take pleasure in a cup of espresso as a result of he’ll attempt to rise up on the canine crate, or the kitchen island, or climb the steps.”

Zach Smith After a well being scare two years in the past, reining in Fritz’ wild streak is an issue his father is extraordinarily grateful to have.

On Christmas Day 2020, Zach and his spouse, Honor, observed that three-week-old Fritz appeared particularly fussy and did not have a lot of an urge for food. The subsequent morning, Fritz developed a fever, and caregivers at Duke Pressing Care Holly Springs referred him to Duke College Hospital.

As soon as there, docs decided Fritz – whose fever spiked at 103.2 – had a gaggle b strep an infection, which required every week within the hospital for intravenous antibiotic therapies.

Throughout nervous nights staying with Fritz, Zach recalled strolling across the unit and questioning what confronted different younger sufferers. On parental depart from Duke, and with medical insurance coverage he knew would cowl many of the bills, he stated he was conscious of how lucky his household was.

A 2022 Kaiser Household Basis (KFF) survey reported that 72 p.c of adults with medical debt stated it got here from a one-time, short-term medical expense akin to a single hospital go to. The price of Fritz’ hospital keep was round $25,000. With Zach’s Duke Choose insurance coverage, they solely paid a $600 hospital keep co-pay.

“In that second, I felt very grateful to have the ability to have this protection and do the form of work I do,” Zach stated.


After being uninsured at her previous employer, Keaira Pettiford stays on top of medical care through her Duke plan.

Staying on a Wholesome Path

A number of years in the past, whereas driving dwelling from work, Keaira Pettiford struggled to remain awake.

Her signs had been regarding, however the medical plan supplied by her employer on the time was not inexpensive, so for 2 years, she was uninsured.

“On so many events,” stated Keaira, 31, “I needed to ignore and push by means of some well being issues that I skilled with out in search of skilled medical assist as a result of I couldn’t afford the bills that got here together with seeing a physician.”

In accordance with Kaiser Household Basis (KFF) polling, about 4 in 10 U.S. adults have delayed or gone with out medical care up to now yr because of prices.

Keaira, now a pharmacy tech for Duke Outpatient Pharmacy, is enrolled within the Duke Choose medical plan and units routine preventive care appointments to make sure she’s on the correct path. Underneath every of Duke’s medical plans, one annual go to with an in-network supplier for preventive care is absolutely lined. All preventive screenings are lined in full beneath Duke’s medical plans.

To diagnose her sudden bouts of sleepiness, she has undergone a sleep research, endoscopy, and CT scan up to now yr, all at cheap prices.

“I can see a physician for any healthcare considerations I could have and will not have to interrupt the financial institution to do it,” Keaira stated. “It’s an unbelievable feeling once you really feel such as you lastly have management over your individual healthcare.”


Renee and Anthony Hunte have a new appreciation for time spent together after Anthony survived a scary bout with COVID-19.

Letting Life Go On

As she dropped her husband, Anthony, off at Duke College Hospital’s Emergency Division in 2020, Renee Hunte recollects the scene being eerily quiet. A employees member, clad in a masks and face protect, helped Anthony right into a wheelchair and rolled him inside.

Weeks earlier, Anthony had been hospitalized with COVID-19. After being launched, the virus stored taking a toll, forcing a second hospital admission, which earlier than vaccines, was extraordinarily worrisome.

A person of deep religion, Anthony held tight to his Bible, peaceable in his acceptance of no matter lay forward. Close by, Renee, who moved her household from Arkansas 4 months earlier to turn into a supervisor for Little one Life Providers at Duke College Hospital, could not silence her worries.

“How am I going to lift two youngsters on my own?” Renee thought to herself.

“How am I going to do that? We simply moved right here.”

Duke’s worker well being advantages’ deep worth is available in defending what’s really priceless: members of the family. Within the 2021-22 fiscal yr, Duke paid $110.2 million for the well being care prices of the dependents of employees and college members.

Over eight days, Duke caregivers helped Anthony, who was lined beneath his spouse’s Duke Choose plan, get nicely sufficient to return dwelling, the place his restoration continued.

“If I wasn’t at Duke Hospital, I would not be right here, I consider that in my coronary heart,” Anthony stated. “The therapy I obtained was completely phenomenal. And afterward, I used to be shocked we did not get extra substantial payments.”

Ship story concepts, shout-outs and pictures by means of our story thought kind or write [email protected]

Previous post In main retreat, Vivid Well being halts particular person medical insurance protection
Next post How Healthcare Companies Can Thrive In A Pandemic-Impacted World