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Flexible Benefits Open Enrollment Begins November 1

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Lehigh’s annual Flexible Benefits Open Enrollment period for the 2014 plan year will take place from November 1 – 15 this year.  You’ll receive the Open Enrollment Quick Guide at the end of October, and much more information will be available online at that time as well. Open Enrollment is your chance to make changes to:

  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Supplemental and dependent life insurance
  • Health and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts
  • The taxability of your long term disability benefit.

Vendor Visits Scheduled
To help you in your decision-making process, our insurance vendors will make visits to campus during the first week of Open Enrollment. Here are the details:

Tuesday November 5
Wednesday November 6

11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

University Center: Faculty West Lounge
Iaccoca Hall: Wood Dining Room Foyer

The Affordable Care Act
If you have been following the news of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA for short), you will know that a number of key aspects of the law go into effect in the 2014 plan year.  Some of them have been features of our plans for years, including no consideration of pre-existing conditions and no lifetime benefit caps.

There are, however, several new rules that take effect in January that will impact Lehigh’s plans.  These include:

  • Elimination of co-pays for preventive care, such as annual check-ups, mammograms, colonoscopies, vaccines, and more
  • Elimination of co-pays/fees for certain prescription drugs, including contraceptives
  • Coverage for young adults on their parents’ plan, regardless of whether the adult child has access to insurance elsewhere.

Lehigh’s Medical Insurance Plans
The four plans that Lehigh offered last year will continue to be offered for the next plan year. The only coverage changes that you will see are those required by the ACA. As you can see from the list above, these are all net gains in benefits for virtually all of our employees.

There will be some increases in monthly premiums with each plan.  This is true both for Lehigh’s share of the insurance premium as well as your share.

The monthly cost to employees for the 2014 plan year (in dollars) is:

The new premiums represent increases over the 2013 plan year (in dollars) as follows:

Lehigh continues to pay between 67 and 87 percent of the cost of your medical insurance (depending on the plan’s total cost and number of people covered).  Here’s a look at how much of your medical insurance is paid for by the university for the 2014 plan year (in dollars with comparison to 2013):

The Full Picture

Although premiums are going up, the increases need to be looked at in the context of the new benefits guaranteed by the ACA, as well as the medical cost inflation that always exceeds the general inflation level.  On balance, given the new covered services, many employees may actually see little change, or even lower out-of-pocket costs, for their total health care spending in the coming year.

Naturally, what you pay in total depends on how many of the newly covered services you use in the plan year. If, for example, you visit the doctor for a preventive visit, get a mammogram and/or colonoscopy, and use a covered prescription drug, you may see a net savings in your total out-of-pocket expenses during the year.  Part of the philosophy of the ACA is that by encouraging preventive care, health care costs will come down overall as we see a healthier population.

Stay Tuned
You’ll be receiving printed and online information as we near Open Enrollment. As has been the case for many years, our insurance vendors will come to campus during Open Enrollment to answer questions in person on the Asa Packer and Mountaintop campuses. And, we’ll also keep you updated via the Work/Life Lehigh Facebook page, Twitter, and the daily announcements email.

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