Oct. 25, 2007
UI staff, faculty choose new benefit options for 2008
Staff and faculty members at the University of Iowa will be choosing among health insurance and other benefit options for 2008 beginning next week, and most of them must take action and make a choice of health insurance or run the risk of starting the new year without health care coverage.
The university's flexible benefit program open enrollment period is from Nov. 5 to Nov. 23 for faculty, professional and scientific (P&S) staff, and merit supervisory exempt staff. The merit staff open enrollment period runs from Oct. 26 to Nov. 26.
Under its flexible benefits program, the university gives each employee a pool of tax-free dollars as part of their compensation. The amount of this pool depends on family status (single, married, etc.), salary, and length of employment. These funds can be used to pay for a number of benefits options, including health and dental insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance.
Due to changes in available health care packages, many employees will be required to choose a new health insurance plan, says Richard Saunders, senior associate director of Human Resources. In previous years, employees could allow their choices to continue year-to-year. That's not possible this year for many.
"We've made some substantial changes to the health care plans, so that it's not possible for most employees to keep their selections from last year. There is a new plan and new choices. Staff and faculty will be pleased with the improved plan designs, but many of them must choose or risk starting the year without health insurance," says Saunders.
The primary change is a new plan, called "UI Choice" that essentially replaces two previous plans in terms of options available to the employee. The plan allows a broad choice of healthcare providers at various tiers of payment, effectively combining the best features of two of the previous plans.
The UI Funded Retirement Insurance Committee, working with Saunders, created the plan and eliminated others to meet the challenges of rising healthcare costs to the consumer and to better serve the UI community, Saunders says.
"The new health insurance program offers faculty and staff better, more flexible options. It should make the choice in flex benefits enrollment somewhat easier," he says.
Saunders says that all staff should take this opportunity to carefully review their benefit choices to ensure those choices best meet their needs. All staff may enroll in, withdraw from, or change their contribution amount for the flexible spending accounts during open enrollment.
Merit staff members have very few changes this year, but there is a dental plan open enrollment.
To assist staff and faculty in choosing their various options, the benefits office offers educational modules to explain each of the benefits options. For more information see http://www.uiowa.edu/hr/benefits/educate/index.html.
Detailed information regarding plans and programs is available on the University Benefits Office Web site http://www.uiowa.edu/hr/benefits/index.html.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500