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University Benefits Executive Director Provides USAC with Information About Benefits and Open Enrollment

Posted by on Saturday, October 14, 2017 in Archive, Events, News.

Catherine WoodCatherine Wood, University Benefits Executive Director, addressed USAC at its October meeting to discuss employee benefits and Open Enrollment which begins on Tuesday, October 17 and ends on Tuesday, October 31. During Open Enrollment, employees will be able to make decisions regarding their 2018 benefits coverage including:

  • Health, dental and vision insurance
  • Accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D) insurance
  • Health care flexible spending accounts (FSA)
  • Dependent day care flexible spending accounts (FSA)

Wood shared that, on average, employees invest only 15 minutes when choosing the best benefits plan for themselves and their family but take (on average) 10 hours when researching buying a vehicle. She encouraged the group to invest adequate time to think about their/their family’s health care needs in the coming year and plan accordingly.

She further mentioned that Open Enrollment is also a good time to consider retirement contributions, citing that “the average couple will spend $260,000 on healthcare in retirement” and that “healthcare expenses are the number one cause of (personal) bankruptcy.” It is important for each employee to consider all available options when selecting a health plan for the coming year AND to review savings strategies when planning for retirement.

Updates for 2018

Significant updates for 2018 include:

  • No plan design changes and very modest premium increases that are below the national average (approximately 8%).
  • Two options for all employees: Aetna Plus and Aetna Select.
  • A third option, the Aetna HealthFund, will only be available to those who are currently enrolled in it (approximately 17% of employees) and then it will be discontinued altogether in 2019.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance:
    • All eligible covered family members will need to be added as dependents.
    • Beneficiaries will also need to be specified.
  • Salary bands are simplified from 5 to 3:
    • Band A $0-$59,999
    • Band B $60,000-$149,999
    • Band C $150,000+
  • A new matching contribution policy for retirement plans to encourage a higher rate of saving:
    • VU continues to match the mandatory 3% contribution.
    • Beginning in 2018, the university will also match voluntary contributions of 1% or 2% (up to 5% total, mandatory plus voluntary).

MyVU Benefits Profile

Some important actions for each employee to take in their MyVU Benefits Profile, regardless of whether or not they make changes, include:

  • Indicating dependents and beneficiaries.
  • Confirming working spouse coverage by indicating whether or not a spouse has access to insurance through another employer (including VUMC). A $100 per month spousal coverage fee will apply if they do.
  • Attest to whether or not covered family members use tobacco. Employees can save $20 per month on premiums if they (and their covered family members) are tobacco-free.

More Information

Employees can only change or update the 2018 benefits described above during Open Enrollment or within 30 days of a qualifying life event (like getting married or having a baby) — however — they can make changes to some other benefits programs anytime, including during Open Enrollment. Some of these include:

  • Life insurance
  • Enhanced short-term disability
  • Long-term disability
  • Retirement plan contributions

Remember that completing all the steps of Go for the Gold by October 31 will earn $240 toward a health plan account or a membership at the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center.

A Benefits Open House will be held on Thursday, October 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the HR Training Room (Baker Building, 110 21st Ave South, 10th Floor).

Open Enrollment Website

Ask Alex: Interactive Benefits Counselor

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