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Medical objects.

Open enrollment 2005

Deadline is November 30; for AFSCME employees, December 9

By Betty Gilchrist

From Brief, October 26, 2005;
updated November 29, 2005

Open enrollment starts November 1. If you've done this before, you may recognize that as a new date, a couple weeks later than in previous years.

You also may have attended a benefits information session last month or read the recent benefits newsletter and discovered that you have new medical plan choices for this year's open enrollment.

It's true: For 2006, you have new medical plan options to choose from--HealthPartners and Medica. Medica will provide plans to continue offering the four current plan structures (a limited network plan, tiered network plan, preferred provider organization, and consumer-directed health plan).

Within this array of structures, Medica has two plans--Medica Elect & Essential, and Medica Choice Regional--that will become the base plans, or lowest-cost options, for different locations in the state.

AFSCME employees' deadline extended

Due to contract negotiations, the enrollment deadline for AFSCME employees has been extended to December 9.

Meanwhile, HealthPartners has expanded its provider network in the Twin Cities and regionally to become available to all U campuses. U Classic Plus by HealthPartners is a low-cost option with base plan copayments and benefits.

"The changes being made to UPlan medical plans for 2006 are helping us hold down cost increases," says Employee Benefits director Dann Chapman. "They include improved purchasing strategies and improved services to participants, particularly in the areas of provider choice, pharmacy benefits, and health improvement.

The continuing goal is to maintain access to high quality health care for University faculty, staff, retirees, and their dependents, says Chapman. The 2006 improvements should help the U meet that goal, not just next year, but in future years, too.

As you examine your options for 2006 on the Web or in your guide for UPlan benefits, you'll find that, for the first time, all base plans will have an out-of-network benefit that will give you greater flexibility in selecting a provider.

The new prescription-drug program through RxAmerica benefits you with smaller copayments on generic and some brand prescription drugs.

Developments in the UPlan Wellness program are another change. To help you lead a healthy lifestyle, the University has contracted with an independent company, Harris HealthTrends, Inc., and its network of wellness providers to provide employees with a confidential health improvement program in 2006. New program components include a UPlan-wide nurse line and a wellness assessment with followup lifestyle and disease management programs and self-paced online health programs. To demonstrate the U's commitment to your health and encourage your participation, you will receive $65 when you complete the wellness assessment and a second $65 incentive when you complete one of the other new health improvement programs.

What else is new? There's a new method for determining costs for family coverage. Currently, you elect coverage either for yourself only or for your family as one unit. In 2006, UPlan will implement three tiers that reflect different family structures. When you select your new plan, and if you add dependents, your rates will reflect one of these four tiers:

Recognizing the cost impact on you if electing to cover your children and spouse or same-sex domestic partner, the U will provide a lump-sum payment to offset the impact of this change if your base salary is less than $65,000 and you choose Medica Elect & Essential, Medica Choice Regional, or U Classic Plus by HealthPartners. The payment amounts are $300 for the 2006 plan year and $150 for the 2007 plan year.

Designated computer labs for open enrollment


Nov. 16
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
116 UMD Library

Twin Cities - Minneapolis
Nov. 1
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Great Hall
Coffman Memorial Union

Nov. 4, 8, 10, 14, 18
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
315 Donhowe, East Bank

Nov. 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
315 Donhowe, East Bank

Twin Cities - St. Paul
Nov. 2 , 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
North Star Ballroom
St. Paul Student Center

Crookston, Morris, and Rochester
For assistance completing open enrollment online and for information about access to computers, contact the human resources department on your campus.
UM-Rochester: Gail Sauter, Human Resources

The Employee Benefits Service Center is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For assistance, call 612-624-9090 or 1-800-756-2363, and press option 2.

The new medical plan options and rate structure mean that you will need to re-enroll in your benefits in order to have coverage in 2006. Plan to re-enroll if you answer "yes" to any of the following questions:

What happens if you don't re-enroll during open enrollment?

That means that, in 2006, you will not have medical and dental coverage, you will not have the flexible spending accounts, and, if you have long-term disability, the amount will remain the same.

You'll need to make your enrollment online between November 1 and November 30 (for AFSCME employees, by December 9).

You may have already experienced online enrollment, during last year's open enrollment, as a new employee, or due to a change in your family status. But even if you haven't, you'll find that it is an easy process--once you've decided on your benefits!

How to enroll

With online enrollment, you can make your choices for your 2006 benefits anywhere, at any time. To make your enrollment:

You have the option to enter and exit the system to change your elections before your choices are considered final upon the deadline at midnight on November 30 (for AFSCME employees, by December 9).

If you have any questions about Open Enrollment, please contact the Employee Benefits Service Center at 612-624-9090 or 1-800-756-2363, and press option 2.

For more information on open enrollment, go to the Employee Benefits Web site at

If you're on the Duluth or Twin Cities campus and do not have Internet access, campus computers have been designated to use for enrollment at various locations and times. See the box, above right, for lab locations and times.

Betty Gilchrist is a senior communications project manager in the Office of Human Resources, Twin Cities campus.

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