Because of circumstances beyond the university's control, Central Management Services (CMS) has not finalized the health and dental plan premiums for next year. In addition, it is not known whether there will be any benefit changes that would become effective July 1. Consequently, the Benefit Choice Options booklet, produced by CMS and usually distributed in early April, will be delayed at least until early May. The "Your Benefits" newspaper, usually issued in early April and distributed with Inside Illinois, also will be delayed.
The Benefits Statements, also produced by CMS, will be distributed to employees by campus mail within the next two weeks. This statement will report enrollment in the state health, dental and life insurance plans as well as a listing of dependents insured under the plan. Employees are encouraged to review the statement carefully and report any discrepancies to the Benefits Center as soon as possible.
At this time, CMS does not intend to change the normal enrollment period, which runs through May 31. However, while you will not have rate and benefits information you will want if you are considering a change in health plans, there are other actions you can and should proceed with prior to May 31.
There is good news if you want to add a dependent to your health plan. Evidence of good health will no longer be required in order to add a dependent to a health plan with coverage effective July 1. That means anyone who has had dependent enrollment denied in the past because of a health condition will now be guaranteed enrollment of that dependent. A pre-existing condition limitation may be applicable to treatment of that condition for a designated period; however, immediate coverage would be provided for any new medical problem. The pre-existing condition limitation currently applies to the first six months of coverage but a change in that time period to 12 or 18 months could be announced prior to July 1. Even though other benefit choice information is not yet available, employees can request addition of a dependent any time through May 31. Coverage will then become effective July 1.
Flexible spending accounts
Enrollment or re-enrollment in the Medical Care and/or Dependent Care Assistance Plans must be completed on or before May 31. For those currently enrolled, a re-enrollment form should be sent to your home address by CMS by May 1. Brochures for the year starting July 1 are now available from the Benefits Center and include enrollment forms that can be used by either new or current participants in the plans.
Recertifying a dependent over age 19
Each year during April and May, the continuing eligibility of dependent children over 19 must be certified. If you have a child in this age group, you can accomplish recertification in one of two ways.
1. Call the state's telephone enrollment number, (800) 592-1200, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In order to use this system, your dependent's Social Security number must be on record in CMS' membership system, and you also will need to have that number when you call. A confirmation will be sent to you within two weeks following a telephone recertification.
2. Complete the recertification form, which will be sent to your home address by the Benefits Center in the next two weeks.
Regardless of which of the above options you choose, it is very important that recertifications be completed by May 31. The flexibility the Benefits Center has had in the past in accommodating those who turn in forms late will not be available this year because of the earlier update requirements by CMS.
Because so many employees have expressed concerns about the short period
of time provided to make a decision regarding enrollment in the new supplemental
long-term disability insurance plan, the enrollment period has been extended
to April 18.
In addition, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the long-term disability plan:
What happened to my SURS disability benefit? Is it still there?
Yes, the 50 percent of disability salary SURS benefit is still there. The new plan is designed to supplement the SURS benefit so that a disabled employee can be assured of a 66.67 percent of salary benefit. That means that:
--An employee in the first two years of employment who will not qualify for an illness disability benefit from SURS would receive the 66.67 percent from Fortis.
--An employee receiving a 50 percent benefit from SURS would receive 16.67 percent from Fortis for a combined benefit of 66.67 percent.
--An employee who exhausts the SURS benefit and qualifies for the 35 percent SURS disability retirement benefit would receive 31.67 percent of salary from Fortis.
--An individual who does not qualify for the 35 percent benefit but continues to meet Fortis disability requirements would receive the full 66.67 percent from Fortis.
How long does the benefit last?
The benefit will be paid for up to 60 months provided you are unable to perform one or more of the material duties of your regular job. After 60 months, benefits continue until you reach normal Social Security retirement age provided you cannot perform at least one of the material duties of each gainful occupation for which your education, training or experience may qualify you.
Can you explain what pre-existing condition limitation means?
The following examples may help clarify this provision:
-- If you have not seen a doctor or taken prescribed medications for a particular condition during the six months prior to your effective date, you will not be subject to a pre-existing condition limitation.
-- If, for example, you take medication for high blood pressure daily, you have a pre-existing condition. That means that any disability directly related to that condition that occurs in the first 24 months of coverage would not qualify for a disability benefit. If you become disabled because of a related condition after 24 months have passed, a benefit would be payable.
-- You've been taking high blood pressure medication but your doctor has told you it is not needed any longer and no recheck is needed until December. If you do stop that medication and don't see the doctor until December, you will have been treatment free for six months and the 24-month pre-existing condition limitation will not apply to your high blood pressure condition.
How are the rates determined and why is there such a big difference in age rates between age 44 and 45?
The rates are determined by Fortis Benefits. The greater increase at age 45 reflects the higher likelihood of a disability in the 45 to 49 age range as evidenced by disability statistics.
I tried the telephone enrollment system and it didn't work -- why?
We are not yet sure why some employees are encountering difficulties in using the Teleselect enrollment option. If it doesn't work for you on the first try, please try again later. Let the Benefits Center know if you continue to have a problem. If you prefer to enroll by filling out an enrollment form, you can request one from the Benefits Center.
How does this plan benefit me as a short-term employee?
First, no SURS disability benefit is payable from SURS if you are disabled because of illness in the first two years of SURS participation. Persons employed longer than two years but still "short term" have a greater risk of exhausting their SURS benefit than long-term employees. That's because the 50 percent of salary SURS benefit is paid until benefits received total one-half your total earning while a SURS participant. That means a person employed for three years would likely have something less than three years of disability benefits available from SURS.
How does this plan benefit me as a long-term employee?
Long-term employees who can anticipate a SURS disability benefit for a long period of time may feel that this plan is of little value to them; however, it does provide benefits that might be important to some individuals. One is the disability benefit available if a disability permits you to work only part time. An individual must be unable to work at all for 60 days in order to qualify for a benefit from SURS. Another is simply the 16.67 percent benefit payable in addition to the 50 percent SURS benefit, and the additional 31.67 percent if an individual moves to SURS' 35 percent disability retirement annuity.
How do I enroll?
There are two ways to enroll:
1. If you received the Teleselect packet, you can complete your enrollment by telephone as instructed in that packet and avoid completing any forms.
2. You can request an enrollment form from the Benefits Center to complete and return.