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Annual Benefits Choice Period begins

May 2, 2011

Photo of file folders for insurance, dental/medical, receipts, etc.In the next couple of days, NIU employees will receive, at their home addresses, a letter from the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) regarding this year’s Benefit Choice Period.

Changes for FY2012 that are currently definitive are summarized in the letter.

On April 7, 2011, HRS notified employees of Managed Care Health Plan Revisions. However, these revisions have yet to be finalized at the state level. Thus, vendor names, coverage areas and rates are not available at this time.

As a result of the delay in finalizing managed care options, CMS has informed the universities of a planned extension of the Benefits Choice Period beyond the May 31 closing date. Accordingly, medical plan changes (with the exception of enrollments into Quality Care or HMO Illinois) should not be submitted.

NIU will continue to provide employees with information as it is received, but employees are encouraged to monitor the CMS benefits website for the most up-to-date information and a copy of the Benefit Choice Options Period Booklet.

Once managed care contracts are finalized, CMS will update the Benefit Choice Options Booklet with vendor names, coverage areas and rates. At that time, the end date for the Benefit Choice Period will also be determined.

If current HMO options are not continued, members enrolled in any managed care plan that is no longer available under the program must elect a new carrier during the Benefit Choice Period. Members who fail to make an election will automatically be enrolled in the Quality Care Health Plan by CMS. No defaults into the Quality Care Health Plan will be implemented until after the Benefits Choice end date. HRS will inform the campus as additional information becomes finalized. Employees without access to computers can visit Human Resource Services at its main office or at the Swen Parson Service Center, room 110. 

Key Benefits Choice Changes

All of the changes outlined in the CMS letter referenced above are important. Employees should make specific note of the following changes:

  • Changes made during the Benefits Choice Period are effective July 1, 2011.
  • During the Benefits Choice Period employees may change health plans, add or drop dependent coverage, increase or decrease optional life insurance coverage, add or drop child or spouse life insurance and/or AD&D. Please see the Benefit Choice Options Period Booklet for information regarding these changes and other changes that can be made during the Benefits Choice Period. 
  • Delta Dental is the new administrator of the dental plan. There will be no changes in the dental premiums, deductibles or the schedule of benefits.
  • Effective July 1, 2011, members enrolled in the Quality Care Health Plan or one of the self-insured managed care plans will be subject to prescription drug step therapy (PDST). PDST is a program designed to encourage members to select lower cost drugs prior to moving to a higher cost therapeutic equivalent.
  • There will be changes to the life insurance rates, but the specific figures are not yet available. Dependent children under the age of 26 will be eligible for life insurance. A Statement of Health is not required during the Benefits Choice Period to add child life insurance.
  • As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the residency and marital status of dependent children is no longer relevant (with the exception of a dependent child enrolled in the adult veteran category, who must reside in Illinois).
  • Long Term Care will not be offered after June 29, 2011. Additional information is available online.
  • Employees enrolled in MCAP should continue to use their current Visa cards for reimbursement. New cards will only be issued to new enrollees in the plan. If a new card is needed, please contact Fringe Benefits Management Company.
  • Effective June 1, 2011, CMS will no longer maintain a Domestic Partner benefit category. Employees who currently have their partners enrolled will be able to continue coverage, but no new domestic partners will be permitted. This change is being made because of the civil union law that is effective June 1, 2011. 
  • Effective June 1, 2011, CMS will provide health, dental, and life coverage for parties to a civil union (same and opposite sex) and the dependents of civil union partners of eligible members. Information and FAQs will be available on the CMS benefits website at Please note that these benefits are taxed in accordance with IRS guidelines for all individuals who are not tax dependents. Employees who are considering adding their civil union partner to their benefits after June 1 are encouraged to contact HRS regarding the premiums and imputed income amounts. Employees entering into a civil union will have 60 days from the event to enroll their partner and children. Coverage would be effective the later of the date the request for changes was signed or the date the civil union partnership was issued. Employees who entered a civil union in another state with valid documentation can enroll their partner during a special 60-day enrollment period beginning June 1, 2011.