Changes in laboratory health coverage

Kay Van Vreede

Kay Van Vreede, head of the Workforce Development and Resources Section, wrote this column.

Over the next month, Fermilab employees will receive two important communications from the Benefits Office, so please watch your email.

Oct. 1 – State health insurance exchange notice. The first all-hands email will contain a link to a notice, which employers must distribute to their employees, explaining upcoming changes mandated by health care reform, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The next milestone in health care reform occurs Jan. 1, 2014, when everyone will be required to have minimum essential coverage or incur a penalty. All three Fermilab-sponsored medical plans meet the minimum essential coverage requirements. Americans who are not eligible for coverage through their employers may enroll in plans through the new state exchange marketplace. Read more about the state exchange marketplace and review the notice.

Oct. 11 – Annual enrollment announcement. Employees will receive an all-hands email announcing that annual enrollment will take place Oct. 14 to 25. The email will include links to the annual enrollment booklet, additional notices and the change form. We are pleased to announce that effective Jan. 1, 2014, all three medical plans will transfer to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). The dental plans will remain with CIGNA. Annual enrollment informational meetings will be held throughout the two-week enrollment period. Plan to attend a meeting to learn more about the 2014 changes and new programs offered by BCBSIL. If your spouse or family member has questions, invite them to attend a session on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. in Curia II.

Annual enrollment is a passive enrollment this year, so you are not required to re-enroll if you intend to continue with the same plans and coverage that you have in 2013 or want to enroll in a 2014 FSA plan. However, you should review the booklet to understand how you may be affected by the transition of our medical plans to BCBSIL. Retirees will be notified of these changes in a separate mailing.

The Benefits Office continually evaluates the lab’s benefit programs to ensure that we maintain a competitive benefit position that is cost-effective, consistent with laboratory and DOE policies and compliant with state and federal laws.

As always, members of WDRS and the Benefits Office are available to answer your questions. Feel free to email benefitsoffice@fnal.gov or call x3395 to make an appointment. You can also contact your HR generalist for help.