Oct. 21, 2010

Non-supervisory merit open change period begins Oct. 29

by Paula Van Brocklin

Important dates

  • Oct. 29: Open change period begins at 8 a.m.; participation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Nov. 4: Webcast, 9-10 a.m.
  • Nov. 29: Open change period ends at 5 p.m.
  • Dec. 3: Confirmation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Dec. 10: Final day to report errors on confirmation statements
  • Dec. 20: Final statement of 2011 elections available on AccessPlus

Non-supervisory merit employees will have a chance to review and change their health care benefits during the annual open change period, Oct. 29-Nov. 29. The open change period for faculty, professional and scientific, and supervisory merit begins Nov. 1; details will be covered in next week's Inside Iowa State.

Coverage changes

Most of the benefits changes that will impact non-supervisory merit employees this year are due to federal health care reform. For example, employees may cover children up to age 26 on their medical and dental plans beginning Jan. 1, 2011, and on the Avesis vision plan effective Feb. 2, 2011. But there is a stipulation: Children must be under age 26 on Jan. 1, 2011, to qualify. Children still can be covered if they are married, or if they have a job with health care benefits. In the latter case, the child's employer would provide primary coverage, and ISU only would supplement that coverage.

If children turn 26 in 2011, coverage must end on Dec. 31, 2011. However, if the children are unmarried and enroll as full-time students during the year, they may remain on their parents' ISU health or dental plans until they get married or cease full-time student status. There may be tax implications for employees insuring students over age 26.

Another federal health care reform change mandates that beginning Jan. 1, 2011, over-the-counter medications and drugs (except insulin) no longer will be reimbursed through flexible spending accounts without a prescription. This means your doctor will need to write a prescription for medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin or antacids in order for you to be reimbursed for those items through your flexible spending account. Other health care items, such as bandages or hearing aids, still may be claimed without a prescription. Review the open change guides online for more information on this change.

If you have family members who need dental coverage, now is the time to act. This year's open change period will allow employees to add spouses or dependent children (including those up to age 26) to their dental coverage, something that does not happen every year.

Non-supervisory merit employees also can expect some changes to mental health outpatient coverage, but those details are not yet available. Look for more information about these changes beginning Oct. 29 on the non-supervisory merit benefits page.

Procedural changes

For the first time, non-supervisory merit employees will be able to change medical, dental, flexible spending and Avesis coverage online through AccessPlus. However, a paper form still is required for any additions or changes to employer-sponsored life insurance. If you prefer to make all your changes on paper forms, contact human resource services at 4-4800.

HRS also asks employees to look over their list of dependents, to make sure the information is correct and up to date.

More information

HRS is hosting an interactive webcast for non-supervisory merit employees Nov. 4 from 9 to 10 a.m. To get access, log on to http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/benefits. At the login page, enter your name under the "Enter as a Guest" heading, then click "Enter Room."

No vendor fair will be held this year. If you need additional help, you may set up an appointment with a human resources specialist as soon as possible during the open change period.