Time to review your benefits, as open enrollment launches Nov. 1

For more information

A live open enrollment webinar will be held Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. Presentation slides and a recording of the webinar will be posted to the open enrollment website following the event.

For questions about open enrollment or to set up a virtual or in-person meeting with a benefits office staff member, email benefits@iastate.edu.

The annual opportunity for employees to change their benefits choices starts Nov. 1 and runs for three weeks, closing on Nov. 19.   

Open enrollment is the one time a year when employees can add, drop or adjust benefits such as health, life and dental insurance and the eyewear plan, without a qualifying life event. Employees who contribute to tax-free flexible spending accounts for health or dependent care expenses must sign up during open enrollment, as those elections do not carry over automatically to the next year.

Faculty and staff who don't plan to modify their coverage or use a flexible spending account still are encouraged to give their benefits a look during open enrollment because it's the most convenient time to identify desired changes.

Open enrollment is handled in Workday, and changes will be effective Jan. 1. Here's what employees need to know.

Health premiums up for most plans

Higher premiums for health care coverage is the only change to ISU Plan insurance programs in 2022. The increases announced last month will mean employees in the HMO plan will pay from $5 to $48 more per month. Some PPO policyholders will see smaller increases of $1 to $9 per month. Premiums are holding steady for PPO family plans.

The 2022 increases are the second year of a multiyear effort to counter rising costs in ISU's self-funded health plan, after a seven-year period without changes to premiums or other out-of-pocket costs. 

Eyewear premiums drop

The Avesis vision discount program, which covers purchases of eyeglasses and contact lenses, will cost slightly less in 2022. Avesis rates fell 9% on all plan types, lowering monthly payments by up to $1.75 for the family plan. The lower rates are the result of the university benefits committee and the procurement office evaluating the market with a request for proposals.

Prior flex rules resume

Before selecting contribution levels for health and dependent care flex accounts, make sure to understand their regulations. Federal pandemic relief legislation brought changes, including a permanent expansion of reimbursable items for health care accounts. Other adjustments to flex account rules were temporary and are expiring at the end of 2021, under current federal rules.

The dependent care contribution limit increased to $10,500 per household for one year in 2021 but returns to the usual $5,000 in 2022. The maximum for a health care account remains $2,750.

Any money remaining in either a health or dependent care account at the end of 2021 can be used to reimburse eligible expenses throughout 2022. However, contributions next year will be subject to the prior rules, so a maximum of $550 of health flex funds remaining at the end of 2022 can carry forward to 2023. There is no cap on the amount of carryover for dependent care accounts, but leftover funds typically must be spent during a grace period that ends March 15, a timeline that will return for excess 2022 funds used for 2023 expenses.

Rules requiring a qualifying life event to alter flex account contributions were suspended in 2021. The requirement resumes in 2022, meaning open enrollment is the only guaranteed opportunity to set contribution levels.

How to make changes

Starting Nov. 1, a link to open enrollment 2022 will be in the announcements section of the launch page displayed when an employee logs in to Workday. It also will appear as an inbox task. Clicking "Let's Get Started" will open a page showing available benefits plans.

Choose "manage" to make changes, such as adding or removing a dependent. Choose "enroll" to add new coverage or set a flexible spending account contribution. Employees only have to click on plans they want to change or add.

After all changes are made, select "review and sign" to submit benefits choices and click "submit" on the final screen. Selections can be adjusted before the 5 p.m. deadline Nov. 19, but no changes are allowed after the open enrollment period ends.

Detailed instructions can be found in an open enrollment job aid.