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Berkeleyan

It’s Open Enrollment season again for faculty and staff

| 22 October 2003

Next month is Open Enrollment, the time of year to make decisions about UC health benefits for the coming year. Open Enrollment begins at 8 a.m. PST, Saturday, Nov. 1, and ends at midnight PST, Sunday, Nov. 30.

During Open Enrollment you can take these benefits actions:

• change to a different medical or dental plan;
• opt out of medical, dental, and/or vision coverage. If you previously opted out, you may cancel your opt-out request and enroll in a new plan;
•  enroll your eligible family members in your health plans. (For information about family member eligibility, see the UC Group Insurance Eligibility Factsheet, 2004 online);
•  cancel coverage for a currently enrolled family member
• enroll yourself and/or your eligible family members in the ARAG Legal Plan, which is open for enrollment for the first time in several years;
• enroll or reenroll in the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DepCare) and/or in the Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA). You must reenroll in these plans if you want to continue coverage in 2004.
• cancel your Tax Savings on Insurance Premiums (TIP) participation or reenroll if you previously canceled.

All Open Enrollment changes will be effective January 1, 2004. If you don’t want or need to make any changes in your health or legal plans, you don’t need to do anything further; your current coverage will continue for 2004.

Soaring health-care costs
Health-care costs nationwide continue to rise significantly, and employers everywhere are facing double-digit increases for 2004 health benefits. For UC, which prides itself on providing its faculty and staff with health benefits that are among the best in higher education, these soaring health-insurance costs — combined with reduced state funding due to California’s budget crisis — have created significant challenges.

Despite these pressures, UC has managed to preserve access to quality health care and continues to offer a range of choices to serve the diverse needs of its members. There will be increased monthly premiums in 2004, but UC has taken some innovative measures to help preserve access and choice. For instance, UC has established a four-level medical premium structure, based principally on full-time salary rates, so that employees who earn the least will have the lowest premiums. In addition, UC contributions will be weighted so that employees and enrolled children will receive a slightly higher UC contribution than enrolled adult family members.

The news is not all bad
UC will continue to provide dental and vision coverage and basic life and disability insurance at no cost to employees. Additionally, you will see significant reductions in employee costs for supplemental disability and life insurance, freeing up dollars that you can use to help reduce the costs of your medical premiums.

The Health Care Reimbursement Account, introduced last year, can help you save on taxes by putting pre-tax money aside for out-of-pocket health care costs. The Tax Savings on Insurance Premiums (TIP) program allows you to pay your medical-plan premiums on a pre-tax basis as well.

Hang up the phone and enroll online
Open Enrollment for active employees has moved to the Internet, so you won’t use the telephone to make your changes as you have in the past. Click on the “Open Enrollment 2004” icon on the At Your Service website, atyourservice.ucop.edu.

Links are available for California employees, California annuitants, COBRA enrollees, and Core Benefits Employees. Highlights for active employees are also available in Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog translations.

An Open Enrollment booklet — summarizing key plan changes, medical plan highlights, and other information to help inform decisions — has been mailed to employees’ homes. If you have not received your booklet, go to the Open Enrollment link from the At Your Service website and click on “Lost Your Open Enrollment Booklet?” If you do not have web access, contact the campus Benefits Office and request that a booklet be mailed to you.

You will not receive a personalized Open Enrollment statement in the mail, because this information will be available online. To check your benefit enrollments, go to the At Your Service website and click on “Your Benefits Online.” To access this information you will need your Social Security number or username and your UC PIN. (If you don’t know your UC PIN, you may reset it by going to the At Your Service website and clicking on “Lost PIN/Change PIN.”)

Don’t have a computer at work? You can make Open Enrollment transactions from your computer at home if you have access to the Internet. You can also use computers at your local public library. And you can ask your department benefits counselor to help you find a computer in your department to use for this purpose.
There are also computers available for general use on campus. The list of computer locations and hours is online. You will need a CalNet ID to use these campus computers. To get one, go to 206 Evans Hall or see instructions at the CalNet Gateway, calnet.berkeley.edu.

Need information or assistance?
The best source of information about medical-plan options is always the insurance carrier itself. You can link to all the plan websites from At Your Service.

Your departmental benefits counselor may be able to assist you if you need help making your changes online, or you can contact the campus Benefits Office for assistance at benefits@uclink.berkeley.edu or 643-7053.

Additional information: