Benefits changes herald open enrollment


The Benefits Office has announced the dates for this year's annual benefits open enrollment period. From Monday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Nov. 16, employees may submit changes to their benefits elections which will take effect on January 1, 1998.

Personal Enrollment Guides are being sent to all benefits-eligible employees through the interdepartmental mail on October 30 and 31. The guide summarizes current benefit coverage and provides instructions for making benefits elections. Enrolled employees will not need to do anything to maintain their current level of coverage for 1998 unless they want to enroll in a Flexible Spending Account for 1998.

Open enrollment is the only time during the year that enrolled employees may change health plan coverage, change dental plan coverage, apply for Basic or Supplemental life insurance under the current plan if they elected to "freeze" coverage under the prior plan, or set up Flexible Spending Account (FRAP) contributions for 1998 to pay out-of-pocket medical, dental or dependent care expenses with before-tax dollars.

Current FRAP contributions will not automatically continue into 1998; enrolled employees must re-establish their FRAP account(s) each year.

Further information about open enrollment, including access to physician listings and other benefits news, can be found on the Web at http://web.mit.edu/benefits/www/>. Those who need printed copies of plan descriptions or physician directories may call BenTalk at x3-5000 and press 2-7-3 when the recording begins.

Questions may be sent through e-mail to benefits-www@mit.edu>. The Benefits Office on campus is located in Rm E19-411, x3-0500. At Lincoln Laboratory the Benefits Office is located in Rm A-128, x7055.

Anyone who is disabled and needs special assistance or accommodation to complete enrollment/change elections may notify the Benefits Office staff so arrangements can be made.

As in past years, there will be benefits fairs at which representatives from each of the health plans, the dental plan and the life insurance plan will be available to answer questions. Benefits Office staff members will also be there to provide information on the MIT 401(k) Plan as well as answer any other benefits questions.The schedule for the benefits fairs is as follows:
��������������������������� October 30 - Haystack Observatory Conference Room A - 10-11am
��������������������������� October 30 - Bates Linear Accelerator - 2-3pm
��������������������������� November 3 - Bush Room (10-105) - 10am-3pm
��������������������������� November 4 - Lincoln Lab East Atrium - 10am-4pm

MIT's health insurance carriers will conduct a variety of screenings at the campus benefits fair on November 3. In order to receive a flu immunization, employees must be enrolled in one of the health insurance plans and also make a reservation in advance by calling the Benefits Office at x3-6151. The screenings are as follows:

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts - sun damage; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care - flu immunizations; Healthsource/CMHC Plan - body fat analysis; MIT Health Plan - blood pressure; Tufts Health Plan - stress profile.

NO DEDUCTIONS IN NOVEMBER

In an effort to simplify the communication and administration of health and dental benefits, the Benefits Office is changing the timing of health and dental plan payroll deductions. Enrolled employees now pay for health and dental plan coverage one month in advance. Starting in November, they will begin paying for coverage on a current basis. As a result, they will not have premium deductions in November because they paid for November coverage during October.

Beginning with the November 7 payday and ending with the November 28 payday, there will be no deductions for health or dental benefits. Deductions will resume on the December 5 payday. This procedure is common among other employers and will eliminate several administrative complexities.

Anyone with questions about this change may contact the Benefits Office. For members of collective bargaining units, this change is subject to the collective bargaining process and the terms of each collective bargaining agreement.

Other changes that will become effective on Jan. 1, 1998 are as follows.

HEALTHSOURCE

The Healthsource/CMHC plan will be closed to new members as of Jan. 1, 1998, and as of Jan. 1, 1999, the plan will no longer be available through MIT.

The Healthsource/CMHC plan was added to the options available to employees at a time when the HMOs being offered did not adequately cover the physicians and hospitals in the northwest and western suburbs of Boston. Today, many of the Healthsource/CMHC physicians also participate in Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Associated Health Plan and Blue Choice. For members of collective bargaining units, this change is subject to the collective bargaining process and the terms of each collective bargaining agreement.

While current memberships may be continued throughout 1998, members may wish to begin exploring the other options available to you. During open enrollment, representatives from the other health plans will be available to answer questions at the Benefit Fairs.

Healthsource/CMHC has also announced several benefit changes:
��������������������������� Members will pay $5 for a 30-day supply of generic prescription drugs, $12 for "preferred brand" drugs and $25 for brand-name drugs. Mail-order prescriptions will require two copayments for up to a 90-day supply. (Members now pay $3 for generic and $9 for brand-name drugs.)
��������������������������� The emergency room copayment will increase from $25 to $35.
��������������������������� The Durable Medical Equipment limit will be increased to $1,500.
��������������������������� The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefit will be enhanced to 20 outpatient visits. (The first eight visits will cost $3; for visits nine to 20, patients will pay 50 percent of the allowable provider charge).

MIT PLANS

The MIT Health Plans will offer coverage for acupuncture for pain management at the Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Clinic, for serious medical conditions, when referred by the member's primary care physician.

The MIT Health Plans have made it easier to buy discounted MIT athletic cards through the MIT FIT program. Members may contact the plan by phone or e-mail and ask to have a verified MIT FIT application mailed to their office or home. Members receive their discount by presenting the verified MIT FIT application when they purchase their athletic card. Discounts are also now available at some outside fitness facilities.

For more information, contact the MIT Health Plans directly at x3-1322 or hplan@med.mit.edu>.

TUFTS DRUG BENEFIT

Prescription drugs will cost $5 for generic drugs and $10 for brand name drugs for a 30-day supply through participating pharmacies. A mail-order service is available for $15 for generic and $22.50 for brand name drugs for up to a 90-day supply.

FLEXIBLE ACCOUNT INCREASE

The maximum annual contribution enrolled employees may make to the Medical-Dental Flexible Spending Account will increase from $3,000 to $5,000.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 1997.


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