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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

October 22, 2004

Enrollment for merit benefit plans ends Nov. 15

Editor's note: Inside takes a look at next year's benefit changes for merit staff. Supervisory merit employees, faculty and professional and scientific staff are covered under the ISU Plan, which will be covered in the Nov. 5 Inside.

by Linda Charles

Most merit staff will pay less for medical insurance next year, even though the premiums will go up. That's because the university will pick up a larger portion of the premiums.

Premiums for the single plan are covered completely by the university under all plans. The employee share of the family-coverage premium will run from $222.56 for the Wellmark Program 3 Plus to nothing for the Wellmark Blue Advantage program. The largest decrease in family premium will be in the Wellmark Iowa Select plan, which will drop from $170.76 to $155.48, said Tim Ashley, manager of employee benefits.

Medical coverage and prescription benefits will remain the same.

Changes in dental coverage

Merit employees may elect to enroll in the dental plan during this year's open enrollment. If they previously declined coverage for themselves or family members, if they have single coverage and wish to switch to family coverage, or if they have family coverage and want to add other eligible family members, they may do so during this enrollment and change period.

There will be a few changes to the dental coverage next year, Ashley said. The maximum annual benefit Delta Dental pays will go from the $750 this year to $1,500 next year. The maximum lifetime benefit for dependent orthodontia will go from $750 to $1,500.

Two new benefits will be added. Delta Dental will pay 50 percent for both periodontal surgery, and bridges and dentures (up to the annual maximum of $1,500).

The university will pay $24.55 monthly toward dental insurance, which completely covers single coverage but leaves $32.88 to be paid by employees with family coverage.

Flex plan changes

Merit employees also may enroll in, make changes to or quit their Flex plans during the enrollment period. Employees already in a Flex plan need to remember that without a request for change, the amount elected for 2004 automatically will carry forward to 2005. Flex plans cover medical costs or dependent care. Flex deductions are made in pretax dollars.

All employees who enroll in a Flex plan will receive an information packet from Wellmark, including an "election for automatic reimbursement," form, Ashley said.

Enrollment sessions planned

The open enrollment period for merit employees runs through Nov. 15. Merit employees who make no changes to their coverage automatically will continue to receive the same coverage they have this year, Ashley noted.

Merit employees should have received a packet of information on their benefit options. In addition, they may discuss their benefits with HR staff and fill out forms at two open sessions. The first session will be 1-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in 3150 Beardshear; the second noon-3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in 3350 Beardshear.

Information sessions

  • 1-3:30 p.m., Oct. 28, 3150 Beardshear
  • Noon-3 p.m., Nov. 9, 3350 Beardshear