Oct. 23, 1997
Vol. 17, No. 3

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    New this year: Change benefits by phone

    Phone enrollment system will be available Nov. 14-24 The Benefits Office has made Open Enrollment easier than ever this year: For the first time, employees will make changes to their benefits by telephone.

    "We anticipate that the phone enrollment system will be much more accessible and convenient for our faculty and staff," said Lele Paulson, Director of Benefits. "In prior years, employees had to go to a designated location during specific hours to change their benefits or to sign up for a flexible spending account. Under the new system, employees will be able to change their elections from anywhere they can access a touch-tone telephone and will be able to call almost 24 hours a day."

    The University hosts Open Enrollment once each year to allow employees to change their benefit choices for the coming calendar year. This year's Open Enrollment by telephone will take place from Friday, Nov. 14, through Monday, Nov. 24. The toll-free number will be available Sunday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m., and on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Employees will be able to change their health coverage, increase or decrease their long-term disability and life insurance coverage, and sign up for a health- or dependent-care flexible spending account. They will also be able to change or update information about their dependents. All changes will take effect Jan. 1, 1998.

    Under the new telephone enrollment system, each employee will receive a guidebook that outlines the various benefit programs and a worksheet showing both the employee's current elections and his or her options for changing those elections in 1998. The cost of each election will also appear, as will information about any dependents the employee currently covers under his or her health or dental insurance. The worksheet will also show an access code and personal identification number (PIN) to ensure that the employee's call is confidential. After the employee dials a toll-free phone number and enters the access code and PIN, a voice response system will guide him or her through the enrollment process; elections will be made by using the touch-tone keys. Approximately two weeks after the close of Open Enrollment, the Benefits Office will mail confirmation statements to all employees. Employees will then have one week to correct any inaccurate information.

    The Benefits Office will mail Open Enrollment packets containing the Guidebook and Worksheet during the week of Nov. 10. "Each employee will need his or her PIN and the access code to use the phone enrollment system," Paulson said. "It's therefore extremely important that each employee's mailing address be up to date. If they don't receive their packets, they can't enroll. We strongly encourage all employees to look at their paychecks or pay advices right now to make sure that the mailing address that appears there is correct. Employees should alert their departments immediately if their addresses are not current."

    Questions about the new Open Enrollment system may be directed to the Benefits Office at 702-9634 or benefits@uchicago.edu.