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Open Enrollment Begins Oct. 25: Are You Ready?

October 24, 2018
two women talking in a office
Open Enrollment begins for UC employees at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.

Open Enrollment begins at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, and in an organization as large as the University of California, the options can seem daunting. UC Merced’s Human Resources Benefits Team hopes to make the process of being an informed benefits consumer easier for campus employees.

Information is everything when it comes to making the right benefits selections, said Sana Ramzan of Human Resources.

“The University of California offers its employees many choices,” said Ramzan, a benefits analyst. “We do our best here in Merced to make sure our employees are aware of their options and also that they understand the information that can help them make the best choices for themselves in their unique circumstances.”

Open Enrollment is the one time of year for employees to carefully consider those choices. Every benefits-eligible employee has almost a month to evaluate their present coverages and explore a wide range of benefits options before the enrollment period ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20.

employees cheerfully gathered around a conference table with computers
During Open Enrollment, employees can enroll or make changes to their enrollment in several benefits.

During Open Enrollment, eligible employees can:

  • enroll eligible family members in health plans;
  • enroll in pet insurance — new this year;
  • enroll in the ARAG Legal Plan — an opportunity not available every year;
  • change medical plans;
  • change dental plans;
  • enroll or re-enroll in Dependent Care Reimbursement Account;
  • enroll or re-enroll in the Health Care Reimbursement Account;
  • opt out of medical, dental, and/or vision coverage or enroll if you opted out previously;
  • cancel coverage for enrolled family member; and
  • cancel Tax Savings on Insurance Premium (TIP) participation — or enroll if you opted out previously.

This year, University of California has announced changes to health plan premium costs, domestic partner eligibility, Health Net Blue & Gold, and a brand-new benefit: pet insurance.

four individuals in blue uniforms smiling at the camera
Human Resources is hosting a benefits fair on Nov. 7 and several workshops over the next month to help employees investigate benefits options.

Health Net Blue & Gold is changing names to UC Blue & Gold HMO in 2019. This change was already announced to current health plan members. Health Net will continue offering medical benefits for Blue & Gold and will begin providing behavioral health benefits, as well, through its Managed Health Network (MHN).

Also new for 2019 is the addition of Sutter Gould to the Blue & Gold network. This change adds more than 700 Central Valley physicians from the following participating physician groups listed below:

  • Sutter Gould Medical Foundation (Stanislaus County)
  • Central Valley Medical Group (Stanislaus County)
  • Sutter Gould Medical Foundation – Los Banos (Merced County)
  • Sutter Gould Medical Foundation – San Joaquin (San Joaquin County)

Additional Sutter Hospitals will also be added to the network, including Sutter Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and Memorial Hospital in Los Banos, which are used by Sutter Gould physicians. While Health Net is working to get these changes added to their website, a printed list of the providers will be available at UC Merced’s Open Enrollment Benefits Fair next month. More information is available on the Blue & Gold HMO page on UCnet. In the Merced area, Blue & Gold members will still have access to AllCare, Dignity Health Medical Group Merced, and Health Net Direct Network.

Even with these changes, HMO members will see only slight premium increases in the coming year — not more than $6 per month.

Members of UC Care, the university’s Anthem Blue Cross PPO plan, will see premium increases between $48 and $139 per month depending on the pay band and number of covered dependents.

The expanded list of provider options for Blue & Gold HMO subscribers, the PPO premium increase and the continued availability of Kaiser Permanente to employees living outside of Merced County make it even more important for everyone who is eligible for benefits to carefully consider all options during Open Enrollment this year.

“We understand the rising costs of health care is of concern to our employees, as is the ability to access care when needed,” Ramzan said. “This is why we encourage employees to attend our Open Enrollment workshops, benefits fair or the University of California’s webinars to discover the best benefits choices for their unique situations and concerns.”

The Open Enrollment website and booklet, available this week, contain complete details.

"We encourage employees to attend our Open Enrollment workshops, benefits fair or the University of California’s webinars to discover the best benefits choices for their unique situations and concerns.”

Sana Ramzan, Human Resources

Benefits Fair, Live Workshops and More

The annual Benefits Fair will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Joseph E. Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center. Attendees who RSVP by Oct. 31 will have breakfast available to them. Everyone who attends will be able to meet benefits vendors, campus benefits staff and participate in free wellness screenings.

Live workshops at various locations will further support campus employees in making informed choices. Ramzan said these events will be tailored to the needs of campus employees. Workshops will cover benefit options, 2019 eligibility and plan changes, premium contributions, and how to make selections and changes online using the UCPath self-service portal. All workshops will present the same information; employees are encouraged to pick the time and location most convenient to them from the list below:

  • Nov. 8 — 10 to 11 p.m., KL 208
  • Nov. 13 — 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., KL 232
  • Nov. 14 — 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., DCC 105
  • Nov. 15 — 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., COB2, Room 392
  • Nov. 16 — 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Inyo/Kern Conference Room, Fresno Center

Employees unable to attend in-person workshops can participate in the UCPath Center’s interactive webinars, which will cover similar information from a systemwide perspective. Registration is required, and employees can participate in any one of the following:

  • Oct. 23 — 2 to 3 p.m.
  • Oct. 30 — 9 to 10 a.m.
  • Nov. 6 — 9 to 10 a.m.
  • Nov. 13 — 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 15 — 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

Questions about Open Enrollment may be directed to the Human Resources Benefits Team at benefits@ucmerced.edu.

“Open Enrollment is the fastest month of the year,” Ramzan said. “We all think we have a lot of time to investigate options and ask questions, but time gets away from us. We hope every employee makes time for the Benefits Fair and workshops so no questions go unanswered.”