The University Record, October 15, 1997

Open Enrollment is easier than ever

From the Benefits Office


What's New for 1998?

There are no major plan changes for 1998, but there are some adjustments you need to know about as you make your Open Enrollment decisions.


For all faculty and staff Change to "You + one dependent" rate

There was a last-minute correction to this health insurance rate. The revised rate sheet is inserted in your book. Compare the rates on the insert to your Personal Worksheets. (The worksheets are not correct.)

Mental Health Parity

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), beginning in 1998 certain mental health coverage maximums on annual and lifetime benefits for mental health conditions will be lifted. Review the health insurance Coverage Comparison Chart for information and call your health insurance plan office directly for more details. The changes do not apply to substance abuse.

Prescription Drugs

For M-CARE HMO, M-CARE Point-Of-Service (M-POS), Comprehensive Major Medical (CMM), and GradCare, 1998 copays for prescription drugs will be $5 for generic drugs and $10 for brand name drugs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Pre-existing conditions have been eliminated from all BCBSM health plans. That means there are no pre-existing conditions on any U-M health insurance plans.

New Health Insurance ID cards

Everyone enrolled in M-CARE, M-POS, Comprehensive Major Medical and GradCare will receive new ID cards due to the change in prescription copay amounts. Current cards will be valid through Dec. 31.


Important Open Enrollment dates

Oct. 13­31

Open Enrollment--Three full weeks to call BEL (Benefits Enrollment Line) and make your benefits choices for 1998. Don't wait! Call early!

Nov. 3­7

All faculty and staff will receive a Confirmation Statement. Review it carefully. Does it reflect the choices you wanted? If your statement asks for any information, complete and return it quickly‹don't wait until the end of the year)

Nov. 10­26

This is your opportunity to make corrections.

Dec. 3­5

Everyone who makes changes during the Adjustment Period will receive a Final Confirmation Statement.

Jan. 1

Effective date of your benefits elections.

Tips: How to use BEL


The BEL phone system is really easy to use. Detailed instructions are in your Open Enrollment workbook.


Cell phones don't work with BEL-choices do not register.


Voice prompts guide callers through the choices--just follow the prompts.


Don't wait! Call early. If you like, listen all the way through the first time to get familiar with the system. If you get totally confused, press the # sign and start over. When you are comfortable, make your choices and confirm them.


Write down your confirmation number. A confirmation number of all zeroes is a valid number.


If you want to be sure that your choices "took," listen to them again.


Call as often as you need to--there are 48 lines for the BEL numbers so the system can handle a lot of calls.


If you add your dependents to your benefits on BEL, you will not be able to enter the person's name. You will be asked for a birth date and your relationship to the person. You provide the name when you return your Confirmation Statement. If you do add a dependent, get your confirmation statement back to Benefits ASAP. Don't wait for the end of the year. This will help ensure that any new dependents are promptly enrolled and new ID cards are issued as soon as possible.


BEL Hours

BEL--the Benefits Enrollment Line--is open 7:30 a.m. 11 p.m. every day, including weekends, during Open Enrollment and the Adjustment period, except that on the last day of both, Oct. 31 and Nov. 26, BEL closes at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. If you are in the queue at 4:30 p.m., you will be able to complete your call, so do not hang up.


Phone Numbers

763-0425 from Ann Arbor, and 1-800-236-1492 from outside Ann Arbor.

Do I need to Call BEL?

1. Yes, you need to call if:


You want to enroll in a Reimbursement Account. You must re-enroll every year.


You are in the vision plan, your two-year commitment will end December 31, and you want to re-enroll for next year.


You want to change any of your benefits.

2. No, you do not need to call if:


You do not want a reimbursement account, and


You are content with the benefits you participate in now.

3. If you do not call:

Your same benefits will continue, except that if your two-year commitment for the vision plan ends Dec. 31, it will not continue, and Reimbursement accounts will end Dec. 31.


Benefits Office Hours

The Benefits Office is open 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, throughout the year.

10 Tips you should know about Reimbursement Accounts

Consider a Reimbursement Account--will it work for you? The accounts operate very simply:you put money into the account every month and when you need it, it is there to cover your eligible expenses.

1. You never pay a cent of taxes on the money you put into a Reimbursement Account‹that's how you save!

2. Enroll in a Reimbursement Account during Open Enrollment.

3. There are two kinds of Reimbursement Accounts: Health Care and Dependent Care. You can enroll in either or both. Health care includes any eligible medical or dental expense not covered by your health insurance. Dependent Care includes day or eve ning care required for children up to age 13 and for elder family members while you and your spouse work.

4. Under the current tax law, it is difficult to accumulate enough medical expenses to qualify for a tax deduction when you file your tax return. In Reimbursement Accounts, if the expense is eligible, it can be reimbursed even if the amount is small.

5. You fund your reimbursement accounts with regular deductions you authorize from your salary. The deductions are subtracted before taxes are calculated on your University salary. The University holds the funds in a special account for your use, an d administers the accounts at no charge to you.

6. You provide documentation of the eligible expense to the Benefits Office, and you get reimbursed in your monthly or last bi-weekly pay check of the month.

7. Use the worksheets in your Open Enrollment workbook to calculate your potential savings with a reimbursement account.

8. Caution--Use it or lose it! Calculate your deduction amount carefully. Funds in a Reimbursement Account that are not used are forfeited to the University.

9. In the past, health and life insurance premiums paid on a pre-tax basis and Reimbursement Account contributions were part of the calculation to determine the amount you can contribute to your supplemental retirement fund. However, effective Jan. 1 , 1998, these pre-tax deductions will not affect your retirement contribution calculations.

10. You are encouraged to look at Reimbursement Accounts to see if they will work for you. Review the information in your workbook, then call the Benefits Office if you need more information.