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Health care premiums unchanged for sixth time in last eight years
NUFlex open enrollment, the annual period for university employees to enroll in or make changes to University of Nebraska benefits plans, is Nov. 18 to Dec. 6.
For the sixth time in eight years, health care premiums for medical and dental benefits will not increase for full-time employees. Keith Dietze, director of university-wide benefits for the University of Nebraska system, said deductibles and prescription drug copays also will not increase in 2014. Premiums for part-time university employees will increase slightly.
“The employer contribution went up 2 percent, but the employee contribution for full-time employees will not go up,” Dietze said. “There are several factors that allowed this to happen. First, our total claims did not increase as projected. And, the benefits of small things like wellness programs and an increased use of generic drugs are adding up.
“Employees are just doing a great job using their health care benefits.”
The NUFlex open enrollment period is the only time university employees can make benefits package changes during the calendar year.
Dietze stressed that all employees must designate their individual tobacco and nicotine use during the NUFlex period.
“If you forget to designate your tobacco and nicotine use, or don’t see it listed on your final confirmation statement, you will be paying tobacco use premiums,” said Dietze. “And make sure you review the confirmation statements. When it comes to 5:01 p.m. Dec. 6, whatever you’ve enrolled in is what you have for the entire year. At that point, no changes can be made.”
Employees should also complete the Health Risk Assessment to receive enhanced wellness benefits and your flexible spending account election.
Wellness benefits available through completion of the HRA include an annual preventative care allowance of $300 for adults and $600 for children ($250 and $500, respectively without the HRA); free generic drugs if ordered through the Caremark mail service (zero copay); and a free colonoscopy (100 percent coverage up to $2,500) every 10 years starting at age 50.
Employees have the option to create flexible spending accounts for both health care and dependent care. The accounts hold a designated amount of pre-tax pay in reserve for medical and dependent care bills. The maximum designation for the health care FSA is $2,500 for individual adults. The maximum annual designation for dependent care FSA is $5,000. The minimum designation for both FSA types is $480 annually, or $40 per month.
Administration of NU employees’ flexible spending accounts was transferred to WageWorks in June. Dietze said the transfer was smooth and allows employees to receive flexible spending account claim reimbursements faster.
The one benefit that will increase for full-time employees is vision coverage. Dietze said the vision premium will increase 2 percent and is a result of provisions within the Affordable Care Act.
All other benefit premiums — including life insurance and long-term disability — remain unchanged from 2013.
Dietze said the NUFlex confirmation form will be automatically emailed to employees for review.
Other important benefits changes for 2014 include:
• Blue Cross and Blue Shield will issue new identification cards to all enrollees. The new cards are designed in accordance with Affordable Care Act regulations.
• Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering a smartphone/mobile device app that allows enrollees access to deductible and copay information and a doctor/hospital finder. For more information, go to http://www.nebraskablue.com/mobile.
• Caremark has expanded its formulary drug exclusion program, which requires participants to use less expensive, but as effective generic drugs.
• The NU group number with Caremark has changed. Dietze said employees who wish to have a Caremark pharmacy card can access one online at http://nebraska.edu/benefits. The cards are not required however to obtain prescriptions.
• The process to apply for new or increases in life insurance policies has gone paperless. All forms are now completed through Assurity via links on the NU benefits website.
Dietze said NUFlex information sessions will be offered online at http://connect.unl.edu/nuflex. The sessions are 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 25. The sessions will allow participants to ask questions. They will also be archived online.
Employees who have questions about benefits should contact the UNL Benefits office at 402-472-2600 or in 32 Canfield Administration Building.