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Open Enrollment Period Offers New Options for Staff, Faculty

October 28, 2019
The Faculty and Staff Open Enrollment Benefits & Wellness Fair will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center.
The Faculty and Staff Open Enrollment Benefits & Wellness Fair will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center.

A new supplemental health insurance option and a realignment of prescription medications covered under PPOs are among the featured changes in benefits for UC Merced staff and faculty members as the one-month period of Open Enrollment begins at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.

During Open Enrollment, every benefits-eligible employee can evaluate current coverage provided by the University of California and explore a range of options for the 2020 calendar year before the enrollment period ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The university’s Human Resources Benefits Team is working to make the process of being an informed benefits consumer easier.

“We do our very best at UC Merced to make sure that faculty and staff have the information they need to make important decisions surrounding their benefits options,” said Ali Kalmin, a Human Resources benefits analyst.

During Open Enrollment, staff and faculty members can:

  • Enroll themselves and eligible family members in health plans.
  • Enroll in Supplemental Health Plans. UC is offering three new supplemental insurance options.
  • Enroll in the ARAG Legal Plan — an opportunity not available every year.
  • Change dental plans.
  • Enroll or re-enroll in Dependent Care Reimbursement Account or the Health Care Reimbursement Account.
  • Opt out of medical, dental or vision coverage, or enroll if the employee opted-out previously.
  • Cancel coverage for an enrolled family member.
  • Cancel participation in the Tax Savings on Insurance Premium (TIP) or re-enroll if the employee opted-out previously.

Here are some of the highlights of benefits changes for 2020:

  • According to UC, changes to health care premiums are moderate. Changes to employee contributions for single coverage range from a decrease of $12 a month to an increase in $16 a month. Medical plan premiums are tiered, based on salary ranges.
  • In an effort to keep prescription drug costs and premiums affordable for UC’s non-Medicare PPO plans, the CORE, UC Care and UC Health Savings Plan will switch from the Anthem National Drug list to the Anthem Essential Drug list. The latter contains medications that are less costly but equally effective as more expensive — often brand name — medications. Some employees will experience higher or lower co-pays if a medication moves to a different tier. Any current medications not on the Anthem Essential Drug list will be grandfathered in, which means employees can continue to use the drug as long as they remain on that specific medication and dosage.
  • Employees will be able to choose from three new supplemental insurance options that pay cash benefits if they experience a covered accident, illness or hospital stay. The Supplemental Health Plans are meant to complement (and not replace) medical or disability coverage. Employees receive a predetermined cash payment to use however they choose. Visit to learn more about the benefits offered by each plan and (beginning Oct. 31) to enroll with Aflac.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2020, UC Davis Health will no longer provide primary care services through Western Health Advantage for UC employees, retirees and their dependents. WHA members can choose a new medical plan during Open Enrollment. This change will affect only a few UC Merced employees. Go here for more information.

Complete details about benefits, changes and options are at UC's Open Enrollment website. Information also was mailed to faculty and staff.

Benefits Fair, Live Workshops, Free Health Screenings

The Faculty and Staff Open Enrollment Benefits & Wellness Fair is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Lakeview Dining Room at the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center. Attendees who RSVP by Oct. 31 can receive complimentary breakfast. All attendees can get information from benefits vendors and campus benefits staff and participate in free wellness screenings. Kaiser will offer flu shots for staff and faculty on a first-come, first-served basis as quantity is limited to 65 shots.

New this year: During the fair, employees, retirees and prospective retirees can attend breakout sessions for vendor presentations to learn more about the plans. The sessions will be held in the California Room at the following times:
Active employees:

  • 9:15 a.m.- 9:45 a.m. – Aflac (UC Plus: Supplemental Health Plans)
  • 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. – Health Net (UC Blue & Gold HMO)

Retirees and prospective retirees:

  • 10:45 a.m.-11:15 a.m. – UnitedHealthcare (UC Medicare Choice)
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon – Anthem (UC High Option Supplement to Medicare, UC Medicare PPO without Prescription Drugs, UC Medicare PPO)

Live workshops will be held during Open Enrollment at several locations. The one-hour workshops will cover benefit options, eligibility and plan changes, premium contributions, and how to make selections and changes online using the UCPath self-service portal. Here is the schedule:

  • Nov. 7, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., COB 281
  • Nov. 7, 9 p.m.-10 p.m., SSM 102
  • Nov. 13, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., KL 232
  • Nov. 15, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., San Joaquin/Tuolumne/Stanislaus Room, Fresno Center
  • Nov. 18, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., DCC 105/106
  • Nov. 20, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., Tulare/Madera/Kings Room, Fresno Center
  • Nov. 21, 3 p.m.-4 p.m., KL 232

Staff and faculty unable to attend in-person workshops can participate in UCPath Center’s one-hour, interactive webinars, which will cover similar information from a systemwide perspective. Registration is required. Here is the schedule:

  • Oct. 29, 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
  • Nov. 5, 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
  • Nov. 12, noon-1 p.m.
  • Nov. 19, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 21, 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.

“The end of the year always seems to fly by, and Open Enrollment will begin and end before we know it,” Kalmin said. “We want to encourage faculty and staff to make time to take advantage of the workshops, webinars and benefits fair so questions don’t go unanswered and they make the best decisions for their health and welfare needs.”

Questions about Open Enrollment may be emailed to the Human Resources Benefits Team.