Intercom Online......October 22, 1998

Benefit enrollment
period to run Nov. 1-23

The annual enrollment period for 1999 benefits coverages will extend from Nov. 1-23 and give faculty and staff the opportunity to switch medical plans and/or make other benefits elections. Detailed enrollment information in the Time to Choose packets will be sent by campus mail to faculty and staff during the last week of October. The material will include a personalized benefits statement detailing the University benefits programs in which each faculty and staff member currently is enrolled. A Health Benefits Plan 1999 Enrollment form also will be included for those wishing to make changes in their medical coverage. Additionally, the packets will include a Flexible Benefits Election Form for 1999, VADD enrollment forms and life insurance change forms.

Penn State is offering an "open" enrollment again for medical benefits only. This means an employee or dependent who previously waived coverage can participate without having to provide evidence of insurability; however pre-existing condition limitations may apply under the Healthpass PPO or Plan A. The Health Benefit Plan 1999 Enrollment Form can be used only to change medical plans or to enroll in one of the medical plans for the first time. The form is not used to add or delete a dependent from coverage or to drop your coverage.

It is important to note that the open enrollment does not extend to the dental or vision programs. To add eligible dependents to the dental and/or vision programs or to delete them from any benefit coverage, contact the Employee Benefits Division for the appropriate form. Unmarried, dependent children are eligible for coverage up to age 19 or, if a full-time student, to age 24. (Note: The maximum age limit was raised from 23 to 24 at the recommendation of the Task Force on the Future of Benefits. This change will be effective Jan. 1, 1999.)

A Flexible Benefits Election form must be submitted each year for participation in the flexible benefits reimbursement accounts for health care and/or dependent care expenses. Last year's election does not carry over automatically. At the recommendation of the Task Force on the Future of Benefits, the maximum contribution to a health care reimbursement account will be increased from $2,000 to $3,000 per year. However, the $5,000 annual contribution maximum for dependent care is established by the Internal Revenue Service and remains unchanged. Participation in flexible benefits allows employees to avoid federal income tax and social security tax on money contributed through the plan. Additionally, amounts for Option I (contribution conversion) and Option II (health care expense reimbursement) also are free from state income tax. Please remember that even if you wish to contribute to a reimbursement account in the same amount in 1999 as you did in 1998, you must complete the enrollment form.

Forms for plan changes or flexible benefit options must be returned to the Employee Benefits Division no later than Monday, Nov. 23. Additional information, including links to health care provider directories, is available at the Office of Human Resources Web site at http://www.ohr.psu. Questions should be directed to the Employee Benefits Division at or by phone at (814) 865-1473.

For more information

Six Benefit Open Houses will be held at University Park during the month of November. Open houses will be held on Nov. 3, 6, 10 and 20 in 101 Kern Building and on Nov. 11 and 19 in the Mars Room, Johnston Dining Commons. The hours for all open houses are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Faculty and staff are urged to take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about their benefits. Representatives of all of the benefit plans offered at Penn State will be available to meet with interested faculty and staff.

More detailed information regarding the benefit open houses will be mailed to the home addresses of University Park employees. Faculty and staff at other campus locations will have an opportunity to attend benefits sessions at their locations, and the times and dates for these sessions will be announced locally.

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