The Benefits Office has announced the beginning of the annual benefits open enrollment period. This year's enrollment period will run two weeks only-from Tuesday, Nov. 1 through Monday, Nov. 14.
During open enrollment, eligible members of the MIT community may make changes in their health and dental coverages and enroll in Medical-Dental and Dependent Care Expense Accounts under the Flexible Reimbursement Account Plan (FRAP). Individuals who elected to "freeze" coverage under the prior life insurance plan (before January 1, 1988) may apply for Basic or Supplemental life insurance under the current plan.
Like last year, open enrollment elections will be made on BenChoice, the Benefits Office interactive telephone enrollment system. BenChoice allows callers to make benefit elections from a touchtone telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Last fall, when BenChoice was introduced, nearly 3,000 calls were recorded during the open enrollment period. The telephone enrollment systems allowed the staff to spend more time counseling individuals about benefit options. An estimated 100 hours of data entry time were saved using BenChoice. Because of this success and the convenience of enrolling, changing or cancelling coverages from home or work at any time, a shorter enrollment period is possible this year.
As in the past, the Benefits Office has prepared Personal Enrollment Guides to help individuals review their current benefit choices and to provide instructions for making changes to their benefit elections for 1995 using BenChoice. The Personal Enrollment Guides are part of an open enrollment package that is being sent to all benefits-eligible members of the MIT community. The package also includes a summary of the available choices and a health insurance comparison chart.
Once again, this year's open enrollment package was produced using recycled paper wherever possible. The Benefits Office urges everyone who receives a package to recycle the materials they do not use. Gray recycling bins can be found at various locations throughout the campus and at Lincoln Laboratory.
Individuals who want to keep all the same benefit plans and levels of coverage in effect for 1995 do not need to do anything. Only those who want to enroll in FRAP for 1995 and those who want to enroll for the first time or make a change in their benefits must make their elections using the BenChoice telephone system.
CHANGES IN HEALTH PLAN COVERAGE
Several plans have announced changes or enhancements beginning in January 1995.
Tufts Associated Health Plan
Effective in January 1995, preventive dental coverage will be available for children under the age of 12. Coverage is available for two visits per calendar year.
Bay State Health Care
The definition of short-term rehabilitation therapy has been clarified. Coverage is available for physical, speech or language and occupational therapies when there is a reasonable medical expectation that the member will return to his or her previous level of function and that the rehabilitative program will be completed within 90 days of the first therapy visit. The coverage is for up to 90 consecutive days per calendar year for each unrelated illness or injury.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Blue Cross and Blue Shield has enhanced its prescription drug coverage in conjunction with the introduction of a participating pharmacy network. Effective January 1, plan members must fill prescriptions at "participating pharmacies." Prescriptions will continue to be subject to a 20 percent co-payment, but they will no longer be subject to the $350 deductible. In addition, separate out-of-pocket limits will be introduced for prescription drug expenses. Individual members will pay no more than $200 and families will pay no more than $400 per calendar year in co-payments. Hospital, surgical and other covered services will continue to be subject to the $350 calendar year deductible and the $1,000 (individual) and $2,000 (family) out-of-pocket limits. In December, plan members will receive new identification cards to present when buying prescription drugs along with instructions and information about the pharmacy network.
As of January, routine physical examinations will be covered for up to $75 per visit with no deductibles or co-payments. No coverage is available for routine X-rays or laboratory tests related to a routine physical examination except for routine mammograms, routine Pap smear tests and routine blood tests to screen for lead poisoning. Plan members are eligible for covered physical examinations according to the following schedule:
- ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½One examination every five calendar years from age 19 through 29.
- One examination every three calendar years from age 30 through age 39.
- One examination every two years from age 40 through age 54.
- One examination each calendar year from age 55.
Effective in January, the limited dental benefits under the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan will be eliminated.
During the shortened Open Enrollment period, the Benefits Office will sponsor Benefit Fairs and Information Tables to assist members of the community in making decisions about their benefit elections.
Representatives from each of the health plans and the dental plan will be available at the Benefit Fairs to answer questions. Members of the Benefits Office staff will be in attendance at the Fairs to provide information on the MIT 401(k) Savings Plan as well as to answer any other general benefits questions. In addition, representatives from the Benefits Office will staff Information Tables at various location and times on campus.
The open enrollment packages including the Personal Enrollment Guides are being distributed early next week and should be received by all eligible members of the community by November 1. If enrollment materials are not received by then, individuals should call the Benefits Office at x3-0500 or the Lincoln Benefits Office at x7060.
Benefit Fairs are scheduled as follows:
Lincoln Laboratory-Wednesday, Nov. 2, 10am-4pm, Rm A-166;
Haystack Observatory-Thrsday, Nov. 3, 10-11:30am, Conference Room A;
Bates Linear Accelerator-Thursday, Nov. 3, 2:30-4pm, Cafeteria, and
Campus-Friday, Nov. 4, 10am-4pm, Bush Room (10-105).
In addition, Information Tables on campus are scheduled as follows:
E52 Lobby-Tuesday, Nov, 1, 2-4:30pm;
NW14 Lobby-Wednesday, Nov. 2, 9-11:30am;
Lobby 10-Monday, Nov. 7, 2-4:30pm;
Whitaker Atrium (E25)-Tuesday, Nov. 8, 9am-noon, and
Lobby 10-Wednesday, Nov. 9, 9am-noon.
A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 9).