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Human Resource Services

Monday, 05/02/2011

CMS – Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Benefit Choice Period Starts May 1, 2011

In the next couple of days you will be receiving, at your home address, a letter from the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) regarding this year’s Benefit Choice Period.  A copy of this letter can be found at http://www.hr.niu.edu/GO/2012BenefitsChoice and changes for FY2012 that are currently definitive are summarized.  On April 7, 2011, HRS notified you of Managed Care Health Plan Revisions.  However, these revisions have yet to be finalized at the State level. Thus, vendor names, coverage areas, and rates are not available at this time.  As a result of the delay in finalizing managed care options, CMS has informed the universities of a planned extension of the Benefit Choice Period beyond the May 31 closing date.  Accordingly, medical plan changes (with the exception of enrollments into Quality Care or HMO Illinois) should not be submitted.  We will continue to provide you with information as it is received, but we encourage you to monitor the CMS Benefits website at www.benefitschoice.il.gov for the most up to date information and a copy of the Benefit Choice Options Period Booklet.

Once managed care contracts are finalized, CMS will update the Benefit Choice Options Booklet with vendor names, coverage areas, and rates.  At that time, the end date for the Benefit Choice Period will also be determined.  If current HMO options are not continued, members enrolled in any managed care plan that is no longer available under the program must elect a new carrier during the Benefit Choice Period.  Members who fail to make an election will automatically be enrolled in the Quality Care Health Plan by CMS.  No defaults into the Quality Care Health Plan will be implemented until after the Benefits Choice end date.  HRS will inform the campus as additional information becomes finalized.  Employees without access to computers can visit Human Resource Services at its main office or at the Swen Parson Service Center, room 110. 

Key Benefit Choice Changes:
All of the changes outlined in the CMS letter referenced above are important.  However, we would like to make specific note of the following changes:

  • Changes made during the Benefit Choice period are effective July 1, 2011
  • During the Benefit Choice period employees may change health plans, add or drop dependent coverage, increase or decrease optional life insurance coverage, add or drop child or spouse life insurance, and/or AD&D.  Please see the Benefit Choice Options Period Booklet for information regarding these changes and other changes that can be made during the Benefit Choice Period. 
  • Delta Dental is the new administrator of the dental plan.   There will be no changes in the dental premiums, deductibles, or the schedule of benefits.
  • Effective July 1, 2011, members enrolled in the Quality Care Health Plan or one of the self-insured managed care plans will be subject to prescription drug step therapy (PDST).  PDST is a program designed to encourage members to select lower cost drugs prior to moving to a higher cost therapeutic equivalent.
  • There will be changes to the life insurance rates, but the specific figures are not yet available.  Dependent children under the age of 26 will be eligible for life insurance.  A Statement of Health is not required during the Benefit Choice period to add child life insurance.
  • As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the residency and marital status of dependent children is no longer relevant (with the exception of a dependent child enrolled in the adult veteran category, who must reside in Illinois).
  • Long Term Care will not be offered after June 29, 2011.  For additional information see:  http://www.state.il.us/cms/3_servicese_ben_choice/LTC-notice.htm
  • Employees enrolled in MCAP should continue to use their current Visa cards for reimbursement.  New cards will only be issued to new enrollees in the plan.  If a new card is needed, please contact Fringe Benefits Management Company.
  • Effective June 1, 2011, CMS will no longer maintain a Domestic Partner benefit category.  Employees who currently have their partners enrolled, will be able to continue coverage, but no new domestic partners will be permitted.  This change is being made because of the Civil Union law that is effective June 1, 2011. 
  • Effective June 1, 2011, CMS will provide health, dental, and life coverage for parties to a civil union (same and opposite sex) and the dependents of civil union partners of eligible members.  Information and FAQs will be available on the CMS Benefits website at www.benefitschoice.il.gov.  Please note that these benefits are taxed in accordance with IRS guidelines for all individuals who are not tax dependents.  Employees who are considering adding their civil union partner to their benefits after June 1, are encouraged to contact HRS regarding the premiums and imputed income amounts. Employees entering into a Civil Union will have 60 days from the event to enroll their partner and children.  Coverage would be effective the later of the date the request for changes was signed or the date the civil union partnership was issued.  Employees who entered a civil union in another state with valid documentation can enroll their partner during a special 60 day enrollment period beginning June 1, 2011. 

Faculty and Staff not in Pay Status During the Summer:
As a reminder, Faculty and SPS employees on 9 or 10 month contracts can elect the 12-month payroll option prior to August 1, 2011.  This option avoids the requirement of paying CMS insurance bills (after-tax) during the summer and assures eligibility for MCAP and DCAP participation on a continuous basis.

If you know you will be away for an extended period of time during the summer, contact the CMS Premium Collection Unit (800-442-1300) to discuss how to make your summer premium payments.

Employees who will be off pay status during the summer may make certain changes to their insurance benefits.  Details regarding benefit options, payment of insurance premiums, and the required forms to request benefit changes are available on the Human Resource Services Web site at www.hr.niu.edu

Sick Leave Bank Donation for Regular Faculty, SPS, and Civil Service:
The university has established a Sick Leave Bank program in which regularly appointed faculty, supportive professional staff, and civil service employees are eligible to participate.

Regularly appointed employees may elect to join the Sick Leave Bank during the Benefit Choice period May 1 through May 31, 2011.

For FY12, there will be no requirement for current participants to donate additional sick days to maintain participation due to the adequacy of donated sick days remaining on balance as of this date.

Otherwise, participation in the Sick Leave Bank program requires an employee (who was not enrolled during FY11) to annually donate at least one day of accrued sick leave p

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