What to know about 2019 benefits before open change begins Nov. 1

The once-a-year opportunity for all Iowa State employees to modify their benefit choices begins next week.

During the annual open change period, this year from Nov. 1 (9 a.m.) to Nov. 16 (5 p.m.), Iowa State faculty and staff can adjust, withdraw from or enroll in insurance plans, flexible spending accounts and dependent care assistance programs.

Open change timeline

  • Nov. 1: Participation statements available at 9 a.m. in AccessPlus
  • Nov. 2-16: Drop-in sessions
  • Nov. 6: Online seminars
  • Nov. 16: Open change period closes at 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 30: Benefit confirmation statement available at 9 a.m. in AccessPlus
  • Dec. 7: Corrections to open change errors due at 3810 Beardshear Hall by 5 p.m.
  • Dec. 14: Final benefit statements available at 9 a.m. in AccessPlus

Changes made will take effect Jan. 1. Open change is the only time when employees can make benefit changes, other than adjustments due to qualified changes in family status. If no changes are made, employees' benefits and spending account contributions will stay the same. But open change is a good time to review benefits and beneficiaries, even for employees who don't anticipate any alterations.

During the open change period, employees can review their benefit selections and make changes online in AccessPlus.

What's new

While plans and premiums for health, prescription drug and dental coverage are holding steady for 2019 for the sixth consecutive year, there are a few benefits changes employees should know about:

  • Employees who waive health and/or dental coverage will no longer receive credits to apply toward other premiums or deposit in a dependent care or health reimbursement account.
  • Wellmark is renaming the ISU Plan health insurance options. The preferred provider organization (PPO) plan now called Alliance Select will be BluePPO. The health maintenance organization (HMO) plan now called Blue Advantage will be BlueHMO. All employees will get new insurance cards that reflect the plan names.
  • The maximum monthly payment under the long-term disability policy will be $10,000, equalizing the cap for all employees. Payments are based on a percentage of an employee's salary.
  • The minimum annual contribution to a flexible spending account or dependent care assistance program will be $240. The current minimum monthly contribution is $20, so this change only impacts employees who are not paid 12 months per year. 

More information

University human resources (UHR) will hold online seminars Nov. 6 for employees with benefits questions. The livestreams will be recorded and posted to the benefits website.

UHR benefits staff also will be available at the following locations and times to answer questions and help employees make changes. Employees should bring their AccessPlus login information and names, birthdates, social security numbers and, for HMO participants, primary care provider information for all family members covered by their health plan.

2420A Friley Hall

  • Nov. 2 (9-10:50 a.m.)
  • Nov. 5 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • Nov. 9 (3-4:30 p.m.)
  • Nov. 14 (2:30-4 p.m.)

1117 Gerdin Building

  • Nov. 5 and 12 (4:10-6 p.m.)

64 Heady Hall

  • Nov. 7 (3-4 p.m.)
  • Nov. 9 (8:30-10:30 a.m.)
  • Nov. 14 and 16 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Employees with questions are encouraged to contact UHR by phone at 294-4800 or by email at benefits@iastate.edu.