TO: All Benefits Eligible Employees
FROM: Charles G. Mann
Vice President for Finance and Treasurer
SUBJECT: Open Enrollment for Benefits
It is, once again, that time of year when employees can change their enrollment in Hood College’s benefit plans. The annual open enrollment process will begin on Friday, May 17 and continue until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 31. I am very pleased to announce that the entire enrollment process will be conducted electronically using the “Employee Portal” at http://www.hood.edu/Campus-Services/Human-Resources/Employee-Portal.html. The Open Enrollment link can be found under the “Myself” tab at the top of the page. All employees must complete this online enrollment in order to be covered during the plan year beginning July 1, 2013.
As you know, the State of Maryland recently enacted legislation recognizing same-sex marriages. Accordingly, the College’s health and welfare benefits plans have been amended to remain in compliance with the new law. While coverage for domestic partners and common law marriages are not available, married spouses of all benefits-eligible employees can now participate in Hood’s benefit plans.
At the Federal level, many provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act will become effective on January 1, 2014. Hood’s health insurance plans have, consequently, been reviewed and updated as needed to ensure conformance with the new regulations. Unfortunately, the College’s health insurance carrier, CareFirst, initially presented a 16.7% premium rate increase for the new year. In response, the Human Resources Office solicited bids from other carriers while attempting to renegotiate the rate with the current provider. When neither of these efforts were successful in significantly reducing the cost increase, the College was forced to make changes to the HMO and the Health Savings Account plans.
While it is regrettable that these plans had to be changed, the goal remains to provide employees and their families with affordable healthcare through the HMO offering. Employees can elect to “buy-up” from this base plan by purchasing broader coverage through the Advantage plan or reduce their monthly premium costs by accepting a higher deductable through the Health Savings Account. Regardless of the plan selected, the College contributes the same amount towards the insurance premium. Based on the plan design changes, employees selecting the HMO plan will realize, on average, a 21% reduction in their premiums in 2013-2014 while employees selecting the Health Savings Account will realize, on average, a 2% increase in their premiums. Since the Advantage plan was not changed, the premiums increased 30%. Detailed information about each plan design and associated cost is available at the Open Enrollment website identified above.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please remember to register online for your benefit plans by Friday, May 31. If you have any questions about the process or the employee benefits program, please contact Sharon Smith in the Human Resources Office at extension 3590 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.