Oct. 28, 2010

ISU Plan open change period is Nov. 1-19

by Paula Van Brocklin

Important dates

  • Nov. 1: Open change period begins at 8 a.m.; participation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Nov. 4: Webcast, 10:15-11:15 a.m.; benefits open forum, noon-1 p.m., MU Gallery
  • Nov. 19: Open change period ends at 5 p.m.
  • Dec. 3: Confirmation statements available on AccessPlus
  • Dec. 10: Final day to correct confirmation statement errors
  • Jan. 12, 2011: Final 2011 election statements available on AccessPlus

Faculty, professional and scientific staff, and supervisory merit employees may make changes to their ISU Plan benefits Nov. 1-19, during the annual open change period. The non-supervisory merit open change period begins Oct. 29 and runs through Nov. 29.

Benefits changes

Most of the changes to the 2011 ISU Plan are the result of national health care reform. For example, employees may cover children up to age 26 on their medical, dental and Avesis plans beginning Feb. 1, 2011. But to qualify, children must be under age 26 on Feb. 1, 2011. Children still can be covered if they are married, or even 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 states 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 for more information.

Other ISU Plan changes for 2011 are:

  • Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, now will be included in Medco prescription drug coverage effective Feb. 1, 2011
  • Coverage changes (add, change or drop) to Avesis eyewear insurance will be allowed during the open change period through AccessPlus

How to make changes

ISU Plan participants can log on to AccessPlus beginning at 8 a.m. Nov. 1 to change their benefits elections. Some changes may require paper forms, which are available by request from HRS (4-4800). If you plan to make no changes, you do not need to update your benefits; your current choices will carry over to 2011.

Review your information

ISU plans to conduct a review of dependents in 2011. So during the open change period, HRS asks employees to review the dependents listed on their health care coverage to make sure everything still is accurate. And, it's a good idea to review your statements both before and after the open change period.

More information

HRS is hosting an interactive webcast for ISU Plan participants Nov. 4 from 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 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."

Mike Otis, associate director of HRS, also will provide an overview of 2011 benefits at a Professional and Scientific Council open forum Nov. 4 (noon-1 p.m., Gallery, MU). Otis' talk also will address the impact of national health care reform on ISU's benefits.

No vendor fair is planned this year. If you need additional one-on-one consultation, you may set up an appointment with a human resources specialist. Make your appointment as soon as possible during the open change period.