Nov. 9, 1995
Vol. 15, No. 5

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    Open Enrollment: Annual opportunity to change benefit plans

    Open Enrollment for changes in various benefit plans will be held on weekdays from Thursday, Nov. 30, through Tuesday, Dec. 5. During Open Enrollment, employees may change health and dental plans, add eligible family members to their health and dental coverage, select the optional Long-Term Disability Plan without a medical review, or set up medical and/or dependent-care Flexible Spending Accounts for 1996. Changes in health-plan and dental-plan enrollment will take effect Jan. 1, 1996.

    Open Enrollment will be held in the Cloister Club of Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30; Friday, Dec. 1; Monday, Dec. 4 and Tuesday, Dec. 5. Changes in benefits are noted below.

    Health-plan premiums

    "The University's goal for health coverage over the past decade has been to contain costs while providing a set of health-plan choices that provide comprehensive coverage," said Henry Webber, Associate Vice President for Administration. "The 1996 health-plan premiums and coverage options reflect that ongoing effort."

    To achieve this goal, the University adopted a set of principles in 1990 to guide the structure and pricing of health options:

    _ All employees enrolled in a health plan should contribute toward the cost of that coverage.

    _ Employees who select a more expensive plan should pay a greater percentage of the total cost of that coverage than those who select a less expensive plan.

    _ The University should offer at least one plan that provides comprehensive coverage at low cost.

    The University expects to contribute an average of 85 percent of the cost of all health plans in 1996, according to Webber. As a result of good experience and favorable negotiations with vendors, the total cost to the University of providing coverage under the HMO Illinois, Humana Premier HMO and University of Chicago health plans in 1996 will remain at 1995 levels. This means that employees who participate in these plans will pay no more for health coverage in 1996 than they do now." The following table shows 1996 monthly health-plan premiums for full-time employees.

    1996 Health Plan Premiums If salary is:

    Under $25,000 $25,000 to $44,999 $45,000 to $66,000 Over $66,000 Humana Single $7 $13 $18 $21 Family $23 $35 $47 $55

    HMO Illinois Single $9 $13 $18 $21 Family $24 $36 $48 $56

    UCHP Single $15 $23 $28 $32 Family $44 $64 $73 $82

    Maroon Single $40 $52 $67 $82 Double $76 $93 $111 $137 Family $101 $125 $149 $183 Health-plan changes

    Health-plan changes for 1995 include the introduction of a new UCHP primary-care facility for children: UCPG, Mukhopadhyay & Associates, 3245 W. Grove, Berwyn, Ill. 60402. Employees who wish to take their children to this facility may enroll them during Open Enrollment or any time after the first of the year.

    Dental coverage

    In addition to health coverage, employees may also choose dental coverage under the First Commonwealth plan. This option offers comprehensive coverage through over 900 private-practice dentists for commonly needed dental procedures. Plan features include no annual deductibles and no annual limitation on coverage, although co-payments are required for services other than covered preventive and diagnostic procedures.

    Premiums for the First Commonwealth plan will not increase in 1996. The monthly premium rates are as follows:

    Single $10.75 Single plus one $19.80 Family $26.25

    If an employee enrolls in the First Commonwealth dental plan for 1996, the enrollment will remain in effect through Dec. 31, 1996. If an employee is currently enrolled in the First Commonwealth dental plan and wishes to discontinue coverage, he or she must terminate the coverage by completing a termination form during Open Enrollment.

    Long-term disability (LTD) and life insurance

    "Over the past four years, costs under the LTD program have grown considerably faster than anticipated, although employees' monthly premiums have remained level," Webber said. "Life-insurance costs, on the other hand, have sharply decreased since the University and TIAA last set rates five years ago. Accordingly, the University has negotiated a set of rate changes with TIAA, the insurance carrier for both plans." The changes in LTD rates apply to both the Basic and Optional plans. The rate changes for LTD and life insurance are as follows:


    Effective Jan. 1, 1996: 8 percent increase

    Effective Jan. 1, 1997: 7 percent increase Life Insurance:

    Effective Jan. 1, 1996: 15 percent decrease (rates guaranteed through 12/31/97) Coverage under both the LTD and life-insurance programs remains identical to what it was in 1995. According to Webber, "An employee who wishes to maintain his or her current level of coverage need take no action. To encourage participation in the Optional LTD program, however, TIAA has agreed to a special, one-time offer during Open Enrollment: Any employee who currently participates in the Base LTD program may switch to the Optional LTD program without proof of insurability. To take advantage of this offer, however, employees must complete and submit an LTD enrollment form during Open Enrollment."

    Flexible Spending Accounts

    Employees who wish to contribute either to a Health Care Flexible Spending Account or to a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account during 1996 must complete an enrollment form during Open Enrollment. A Flexible Spending Account enables employees to use pretax dollars to pay for certain medical, dental and dependent-care expenses, in compliance with IRS regulations. Employees with questions about Open Enrollment may contact a Benefits Counselor by phone at 702-9634, by e-mail at benefits@uchicago.edu, or by stopping in at the Benefits Office in Ingleside 103.