Emory Report
October 17, 2005
Volume 58, Number 7


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October 17 , 2005
Benefits Open Enrollment to take place Oct. 17–31

By Michael Terrazas

During this year’s Open Enrollment, which begins today (Oct. 17) and runs through the end of the month, Emory employees will have a wider menu than ever before from which to choose health care, dental and insurance plans for them and their families.

Employees should take special care this year to review their benefits options before making selections, either through the online Open Enrollment feature offered by Human Resources (HR) or through the several meetings scheduled around campus from Oct. 19–28. All but one of the University’s health care plans have changed for 2006, as Emory is switching to a point of service (POS) option for the EmoryCare and EmoryChoice plans.

POS plans are a hybrid of more traditional preferred provider organization (PPO) and health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, offering some of the characteristics of both. Participants in some POS plans still are asked to select a primary care physician, but they do not need the physician’s referral to visit a specialist, according to Theresa Milazzo, senior director of HR.

“Operationally it’s like a PPO because you can go to any doctor, you don’t have to have a referral, and there is an out-of-network component,” Milazzo said. “It’s a little more cost-effective [for the University] than a PPO, though it tends to be more expensive than an HMO because it’s less restrictive. We need to get a little more cost-effective on the EmoryCare side, but we also need to offer more flexibility with EmoryChoice. This type of plan met both needs.”

Also new for 2006 is the Emory High Deductible Health Plan, which offers a health savings account (HSA) option. Under this plan, employees are responsible for 100 percent of medical costs (other than preventive) until they meet the core annual deductible of $1,800 for individuals and $3,600 for families. However participants may also enroll in an HSA, which allows them to invest money pre-tax in the account up to the core deductible to pay for medical expenses. HSA accounts are similar to flexible savings accounts (FSAs), which are open to all University employees; the difference is HSAs accrue interest, and unspent funds roll over to the following year. However, this plan should only be selected by employees who can afford to pay directly for the out-of-pocket costs and significant deductibles.

Another change of note is the open availability of Aetna Dental Choice, which was previously closed to new participants. The network has been improved with more appointment availability.

All Emory employees are asked to review their current benefits information and select their benefits options for 2006; those who do not select a plan during Open Enrollment will be automatically enrolled in whichever plan most closely resembles their current one. To change plans online, visit the HR website at http://leo.cc.emory.edu, login with Emory ID and password to the PeopleSoft self-service option, select “Benefits Information” and then “Benefits Enrollment.”

Employees may also visit one of the following open meetings on campus to discuss benefits options with HR representatives and make their selections for 2006:
• Wednesday, Oct. 19,10 a.m.–noon: Dobbs Center, Winship Ballroom.
• Thursday, Oct. 20, 3–5 p.m.: Grady Hospital, Faculty & Staff Office Building, room 101.
• Monday, Oct. 24,10 a.m.–noon: Grady Hospital, Faculty & Staff Office Building, room 101.
• Wednesday, Oct. 26, noon–2 p.m.: Dobbs Center, Harland Cinema.
• Friday, Oct. 28, 8 a.m.– 5 p.m.: Finance Training Room, Human Resources.

For questions about Open Enrollment or benefits plans, visit the HR website or call the benefits department at 404-727-7613.

Benefits review prompts changes
Following last year’s review of Emory employee benefits, the University has acted to implement some of the recommended changes immediately, President Jim Wagner and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Johns announced in a campus-wide e-mail, Oct. 3.

The changes include
the addition of New Year’s Eve as a paid holiday, beginning
this year on Dec. 30 (Dec. 31 falls on a Saturday);

effective Jan. 1, 2006, lifting the one-year waiting period for University matching contributions to retirement plans for new employees who previously participated in a qualified retirement plan;

the addition of a Roth 403(b) option to Emory’s retirement plan, allowing employees to contribute more after-tax to their 403(b) accounts; and

an expansion of eligibility for the 457(b) deferred compensation plan, allowing employees who meet certain salary criteria to defer a larger portion of income.

Wagner and Johns said more benefits changes may be on the way, as the University studies the options recommended by the benefits review and determines their feasibility.

“As we move forward in implementing the strategic plan, we will work toward meeting those recommendations that support our direction and fit within the budget priorities,” the two wrote. “We also will continually review our benefits program to ensure that it supports our ability to hire and retain the best and brightest faculty and staff.”