Oct. 29, 1998
Vol. 18, No. 3

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    Employees benefit when they use new

    online open enrollment service This year, the University Human Resources Management Benefits Office is using the Internet to offer the convenience of online open enrollment.

    "We anticipate that employees will find using the Internet is an easy way to change their benefit elections at open enrollment time," said Lele Paulson, Director of Benefits. "The phone system will still be accessible to people who prefer to use this medium, though the advantages of using the Internet are numerous."

    Open enrollment, which is scheduled this year for Nov. 16 and 25, is offered to employees who want to change benefit elections for the coming calendar year.

    While online, an employee will see the elections, and in most cases, will not have to fill out enrollment forms. Online enrollment allows employees to review elections, update dependent information, sign up for a health or dependent-care flexible-spending account, or change health or dental coverage. An employee may also complete a short Statement of Health if he or she is seeking to increase long-term disability or life-insurance coverage. It will also be possible to decrease long-term disability or life-insurance coverage online. All changes will take effect Jan. 1, 1999.

    If employees have questions while enrolling online, additional benefits information, such as health plans or life-insurance descriptions, are accessible. Lists of HMO primary care physicians may also be reviewed online, allowing employees to select a physician at that time.

    Employees enrolling by phone cannot access additional information and will be sent an enrollment form and a primary care physician listing if they elect new HMO coverage.

    Each employee will receive a guidebook outlining the various benefit programs, an instruction guide for accessing the online or phone system and a worksheet showing both the employee's current elections and his or her options for changing those elections in 1999. The cost of each election will also be indicated, as will information about any dependents the employee currently covers under his or her health or dental insurance. To ensure confidentiality, an access code and personal identification number for each employee will be printed on the worksheets provided.

    Approximately two weeks after the close of open enrollment, the Benefits Office will mail confirmation statements to all employees, who will then have one week to correct any inaccurate information.

    The Benefits Office will begin mailing open enrollment packets Nov. 9. "Each employee will need his or her PIN and the access code to use the online or phone system," said Paulson. "Therefore, it is extremely important that employees' mailing addresses 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," Paulson said.

    Questions about open enrollment may be directed to the Benefits Office at (773) 702-9634 or via e-mail at benefits@uchicago.edu.