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Open Enrollment for 2009 Begins Oct. 27

Changes include added coverage to the PPO plans for infertility diagnostic and treatment services.

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October 14, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Open Enrollment for calendar year 2009 begins at 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 27 and ends at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14.

Changes include added coverage to the PPO plans for infertility diagnostic and treatment services and health plan coverage for smoking cessation products. All three PPO plans and both HMO plans now cover smoking cessation products.

The Open Enrollment period will allow faculty and staff to enroll online. However, there is no need to re-enroll in a health care plan or waive participation unless you wish to change health care plans or whom you wish to cover.

Open Enrollment is the one time each year to enroll or re-enroll in the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Health Care and/or Dependent Care accounts as well as continued participation in the Limited Use Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account (HSA) plans available to Value PPO members. It also is the period when benefits-eligible faculty and staff may make changes to specific benefit plan selections. The University's employer match will be made again to first-time enrollees in the Health Savings Account. The match is being made in order to provide funds in a participant's account to pay for early year health expenses until the participant's contributions start accumulating in the account.

Those who do not wish to make changes to their Health, Dental, Vision, Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance or the Disability plans do not need to take any action.

The Health Care Decision Toolkit has been enhanced this year. To access the toolkit through Open Enrollment go to https://www.nuhealthtoolkit.com.

eBenefits, an HRIS Self-Service online feature, will not be available to make benefit plan selections until the start of Open Enrollment.

Changes for 2009 include:

Health Plans

• Eligibility age for unmarried dependent children is being raised through age 25.
• There will be two different co-payment amounts for an office visit with your primary physician ($25 copayment) or a specialist ($35 copayment).
• Coverage is being added to the PPO plans for infertility diagnostic and treatment services.
• In 2009, the Premier and Select PPO Plans will cover nicotine replacement over-the-counter items, such as gum, nasal spray, inhalers and patches at either the Generic $10 or Brand $30 copay. Prescription drugs such as Zyban, Buproban and Chantix will also be covered subject to the applicable copayment tier. There will be a $500 lifetime limit on this benefit. Members must complete the WHI Prior Authorization process and be enrolled in a smoking cessation program to qualify for this benefit. The Value PPO continues to cover prescription smoking cessation products after the deductible. Over-the-counter items are eligible for reimbursement from the HSA.

Health Savings account

• The catch-up contribution for those aged 55 and older will be raised to $1,000.

Dental Plans

• Dental implants will be covered at 50 percent of the usual and customary charge for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO dental participants.
• Maximum orthodontia coverage increases to $3,000 lifetime benefit for dependent children under the Blue Cross Blue Shield Dental Plan.
• Overall annual benefit limit for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO dental increases to $3,000.

Health Care FSA and Limited Use FSA
• The Health Care Flexible Spending Account Maximum will increase to $10,000.
• Health care expenses incurred through March 15, 2010 can be applied to 2009 account balances, also known as the IRS Grace Period.
• The deadline for submitting 2009 claims is being extended through March 31, 2010.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account
• The University match has increased for dependent care. The University match eligibility for those earning between $80,001 and $100,000 has been added.

Life Insurance Plans
• Premiums are increased for basic life, supplemental life and spouse life.
• The ReliaStar Life Insurance Company is the new sponsor for all the life insurance plans. ReliaStar is the insurance underwriter for ING.
• Basic life coverage is being increased to a maximum University salary of $100,000 and maximum coverage of $250,000 (2.5 times the maximum salary).
• You can increase supplemental life coverage by one multiple of your salary, or enroll at one times your salary, by completing a simplified Evidence of Insurability (EOI) application.
• If you want to purchase spouse life insurance or dependent life insurance, you are no longer required to have supplemental life coverage for yourself.

Tuition Plans
• The Educational Assistance benefit maximum will increase to $10,000.
• The reimbursement benefit percentage of the Reduced and Portable Tuition plans will increase to 40 percent.

Online Tools
• The Health Care decision Toolkit has been enhanced.

Decisions made during Open Enrollment are binding for the entire year. An individual may not make any changes until next year's Open Enrollment period unless he or she has an IRS qualifying change in family or employment status (such as marriage, birth, adoption, etc.) and the Benefits Division receives notification of such a change within 31 days from the date of the qualifying event.

To prepare for Open Enrollment faculty and staff can begin by reviewing current benefits plan selections online through the Human Resources Information System (HRIS) Self-Service Web site at https://nuhr.northwestern.edu. The 2009 changes and premiums for all benefits are currently listed on the Benefits Open Enrollment site: http://www.northwestern.edu/hr/benefits/news/openenrollment-midyear.html.

Open Enrollment information sessions sponsored by the Benefits Division and the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council (NUSAC) are scheduled for both campuses. A brief overview will be given, followed by a question-and-answer session. In the last half hour representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield, HMO Illinois and UniCare will answer specific questions. Below is a schedule of meetings:

Open Enrollment presentation and Q&A, at noon Monday, Oct. 27, at Norris University Center, Room 104, Big Ten Room, Evanston; and noon Tuesday, Oct. 28, in Wieboldt Hall, Room 105, Chicago.

ING Employee Benefits (*ReliaStar) will present changes to the life insurance plan at noon Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Norris, Room 104, Big Ten Room; and at noon Thursday, Oct. 23, in Wieboldt Hall, Room 109.

Insurance company representatives will be available to answer questions at noon Monday, Nov. 3, at Norris, Room 202; and at noon Tuesday, Nov. 4, in Wieboldt Hall, Room 109.

(*ING's insurance underwriter is ReliaStar Life Insurance Company.)

Benefit plan selections will not be completed until employees finish the online enrollment process and the Benefits Division has received any required documents by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14. Such documents include enrollment applications for life insurance and long term care coverage, if you wish to enroll in these plans for the first time or decide to increase your coverage amount. It also includes the Benefits Division receiving your most recently filed IRS 1040 form if you are interested in receiving the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Dependent Care Account University match.

Additional information will appear in the Open Enrollment brochure in late October, and in future e-mail directed to faculty and staff.