A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Open Enrollment Starts Oct. 30, Benefits Fair on Oct. 31

October 21, 2014
Stability is the watchword for this fall’s Open Enrollment.
All current medical plans will remain available in 2015, with a few benefits enhancements and no major changes. 
Open Enrollment begins at 8 a.m. Oct. 30 and runs through 5 p.m. Nov. 25.
On Oct. 31, UC Merced hosts its annual Open Enrollment Benefits Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center. The fair features insurance-carrier representatives who will answer questions and provide information to assist employees in making benefits decisions. Healthy refreshments will be served and each participants can receive a free blood pressure screening and body-mass index (BMI) assessment.
Open enrollment, the time each year when you can change your medical plan and sign up for other benefits, is a good time to consider any changes to your situation, plan ahead for significant medical events and take stock of your physical well being. UC offers a wealth of valuable benefits for faculty and staff, and Open Enrollment is a great time to be sure you’re taking advantage of those that are suited to your needs.
“Our focus on health benefits is a reflection of how highly we value each member of the UC community,” said Dwaine Duckett, vice president of Human Resources. “Open Enrollment is the time to evaluate choices and be sure you’re making the most of all the university offers.”   

ARAG Enrollment Open This Year

This year, you can also enroll in the ARAG Legal plan, which will feature an enhanced identity- theft benefit. In addition, UC is changing the carryover feature for the Health Flexible Spending Account in 2015 to enable participants to carry over $500 for the full year rather than the current provision allowing carryover of the full balance for a two-and-a-half month grace period.
Those enrolled in the Supplemental Disability Plan will be able to increase their waiting periods during Open Enrollment this year. Plan premiums for those who currently have seven- or 30-day waiting periods are increasing, and choosing a longer waiting period could reduce costs.
The details regarding these changes will be available beginning Oct. 27 when the 2015 Open Enrollment website launches and in the Open Enrollment booklets, which employees will receive via U.S. mail about the same time.

Medical Plan Enhancements, Tools

Responding to employee requests, UC is adding coverage for chiropractic and acupuncture services. All plans will cover these services for up to 24 visits combined. Your cost for the services depends on your medical plan.
Blue Shield Health Savings Plan, Core and UC Care are also adding the Teladoc program, which lets members speak with U.S. board-certified doctors on the phone or via videoconference any time of the day or night. Health Net Blue & Gold offers a similar program called MD Live.
These programs can help when you have non-emergency medical issues, when your doctor isn’t available and in areas with limited access to urgent or emergency care. The costs vary depending on your plan.
Visit the Open Enrollment website for more information about medical plan changes.
Over the past 20 years, increases in medical insurance costs have become a fact of life across the U.S. as well as for UC and its faculty, staff and retirees. The university continues to pay the larger share of the cost — more than $1.6 billion  and, on average, 86.6 percent of the cost.
This year, UC capped rate increases at $25 for all employees for the largest plan, Health Net Blue & Gold, an HMO with the broadest access and availability at all UC locations. This reflects the university’s continued commitment to provide choice, access and affordability in its medical benefits offerings. It also factors in the strong employee preference for, and satisfaction with, HMO plans. You can view 2015 rates online.

Benefits Videos

UC is also introducing a series of short, educational videos to help employees and their families understand their benefits and use them wisely. Available online and via mobile devices, the videos address some of the complexities of using health insurance and answer basic questions such as what’s the difference between an HMO and a PPO. Take five minutes to visit the Open Enrollment website to view the videos, including one that offers comparisons of the available medical plans.
A Spanish version of this Open Enrollment story is available.