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Open Enrollment: Online Estimating Tools Will Help in Choosing Health Care Plans

October 16, 2006

The new online modeling and estimating tools that the benefits division is offering this fall will help faculty and staff determine which of the new and different health care plan choices for 2007 will best suit their needs.

Since all faculty and staff must actively select to participate or waive participation in the health care and flexible spending account plans for 2007, the new HRIS Self-Service online enrollment feature called “eBenefits” is designed to support faculty and staff in making their personal and family health care choices easier.

eBenefits is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the Open Enrollment period, which ends at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30.

As you enroll, eBenefits, will display the benefit plans for which you are eligible. You will see information about your current health care coverage and coverage tier as well as other benefit plans selections. (If you waived coverage for 2006, it will display “Waive”). It will display “No Coverage” for 2007. This simply means that you must either enroll or waive health care plan participation.

Faculty and staff who currently have family coverage for the dental and vision care plans will need to use eBenefits to enroll the dependents they want covered for 2007 so that they have the coverage tier that best meets their personal circumstances.

If you have not selected or waived coverage for other benefit plans such as a life insurance plan, eBenefits will display “No Coverage.”

In addition, you can see your beneficiary designations for your life insurance plans and use eBenefits to change beneficiary designations. These new online tools are available from any computer with Internet access at <www.benefits.northwestern.edu>. To access eBenefits use your active University NetID and password.

Once you access the benefits home page, click the “Your Online Resources” hyperlink. Next, click the “Health Care Decision Tool Kit” hyperlink, to reach the sign-in page. To access information, type in your home zip code and salary range.

The tools found in the health care decision tool kit will help faculty and staff better understand which options best match personal and financial circumstances for 2007.

The online tool kit includes the following four tools, plus a glossary of common health care terms.

“People Like Me” Tool

The “People Like Me” Tool allows faculty and staff to read about how different people with similar situations and needs considered and chose their health care plans. By selecting your gender, age range, coverage tier (whom you plan to cover) and anticipated level of health care needs, the tool will show you “people like me.”

Health Care Expense Estimator

The Health Care Expense Estimator tool allows the viewer to compare total health care expenses (payroll deductions plus out-of-pocket expenses) for up to three plan options at a time. By answering questions about yourself and your dependents you can compare potential out-of-pocket costs under each health care option.

Health Plan Comparison Chart

The Health Plan Comparison Chart is a tool that creates a side-by-side comparison chart of up to three health care plans. You select key features such as cost, ease of use, coverage and access.

Flexible Spending Account Estimator

Use the Flexible Spending Account Estimator to calculate anticipated out-of-pocket health care expenses and determine whether or not to participate in the health care flexible spending account (FSA). FSAs allow you to put pretax dollars aside to cover out-of-pocket health care expenses.

Your enrollment selections will not be complete until you click “Submit” and the benefits division has received required documentation. Once the open enrollment period has ended at 5 p.m. Nov. 30, you will not be able to make any further changes.

Decisions made during open enrollment are binding for the year until you have a qualifying change in family or employment status. You then can complete the online enrollment process within 31 days of the qualifying event.

To protect your data privacy, any modeling or estimating done using the online tools will not be saved once you exit the health care decision tool kit. However, you may print your results by clicking on the printer icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner of the computer screen.

If you have forgotten your NetID or need to have your password reset, contact the Information Technology (IT) Help Desk at (847) 491-4357. If you continue to have difficulties with HRIS Self-Service, contact the HRIS Help Desk at (847) 467-4800.

To learn more about using eBenefits or if you have problems using the new online enrollment tool, refer to the online eBenefits tutorial, accessible by clicking on the Help button in the upper right-hand corner of the eBenefits screen. If you continue to have questions, contact the benefits division at (847) 491-7513.

If you have questions about the new health care plans or other benefit plan options, refer to your Enrollment Guide or Frequently Asked Questions, accessible online at <www.benefits.northwestern.edu>, attend one of the Open Enrollment meetings or contact the benefits division by e-mail at <benefits@northwestern.edu> or by phone at (847) 491-7513.

Topics: People