Open Enrollment starts tomorrow (Monday, November 2nd). Your AFA Benefits and Retirement Committee compiled the following information in order to assist you with navigating Open Enrollment.
- Mailer will be sent to employee’s home addresses 10/15 to advise that Open Enrollment begins on 11/02/15.
- Follow up emails will be sent as reminders through Outlook beginning 10/30.
- A new tool will be added to the web portal. It is called “Alex,” and is a user-friendly tool to enter information, which will then enable employees to compare and contrast different health benefits options.
- A ‘My Alaska Benefits-Annual Enrollment Tab’ will be added to the Alaskasworld website.
- If desired, an employee can enroll or make changes by telephone.
- This year, confirmation of changes/enrollment emails will be sent to employees in Outlook. There will be links in these emails directing F/As back to their selections in the portal, and their portal message folder if need be.
- Employees may carry over up to $500 in unspent Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds into 2016.
2016 Consumer’s Choice (Health Savings Account/HSA)
- In Washington State only, the Premera Network will change from the current Heritage Network to the Premera Prime network. This only affects Washington. In Alaska, the Heritage network will remain in place. All other states use the Blue Shield network, which will not change. F/As should be reminded to check to see that their current health providers are also Premera Prime participants.
- The company contribution will remain $1,000 for employee only and $2,000 for a family. This year all enrollees in the plan will receive an additional $500 company contribution to the plan for an individual and $1,000 for a family. This bonus is available during open enrollment only, both for those switching plans and for current Consumer’s Choice plan participants.
- A new “HSA On-Demand” feature will be added to the Health Savings Account (HSA) website. It will be called “Click to Pay,” with a sign up and usage explanation. It will automatically draw funds from the employees account to pay bills, similar to an online bill pay service.
- A change in the crediting and access to the company contributions will begin in 2016. Similar to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), the company contributions will be credited at the beginning of the year. IRS regulations require than an employee’s personal contributions cannot be credited until the beginning of the month in which they were actually deducted, and transferred to the HSA account.
- If an employee has prior year contributions and/or an investment balance in their account, their cash balance would be used first. Next, they could access their investment balance, and then the company’s contributions. This might prove very beneficial for someone who incurs a large expense in the early part of the year.
- The Health Saving Account (HSA) statements will look different this year—more information will be added. A “HSA for Dummies” booklet will be posted on the website.
- For prior HSA plan participants who become ineligible (due to Medicare, or other disqualifiers which are listed in the booklet), the Company will contribute $500 to a Special Purpose FSA, which can be used for dental and vision expenses, as well as medical expenses after the relevant deductible is met in one of the other AS plans.
- The 2016 HSA limit is $6750 for an individual under the age of 55.
- For 2016 forward, the plan is no longer ‘grandfathered’. The plan will provide 100% preventative health care coverage beginning in January.
- Like the Health Spending Account (HSA), the Washington network will be Premera Prime for 2016 forward.
- Hospice and palliative care will now be covered even for non-terminal conditions when appropriate.
- Over the counter medications in the categories of Flonase, Nexium, and Claritin will no longer be covered, but can be submitted as a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) claim with a doctor’s written prescription.
- Up to 90-day prescriptions for maintenance medications can now be filled in retail stores as well as through mail order. There are some exceptions depending on the medication.
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Questions? Contact your local Benefits Committee chairperson.
MEC Benefits & Retirement Committee Chairperson Terry Taylor and your AFA Benefits Committee