Dependent eligibility verification project underway

Employees with dependents on their medical, dental or vision plans must provide documentation verifying their eligibility by June 2 as part of an effort led by university human resources (UHR) to keep health plan costs as low as possible for employees.

No action is required for employees who cover only themselves through Iowa State's health plans. For spouses who are both employees at ISU, only the contract holder will be contacted and responsible for verifying dependents.

Verification process

Information about the project was shared in memos sent to all benefit eligible employees on March 8 and 24. Verification began March 27 and employees must submit the required documents -- such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and proof of residence in the same household -- by June 2.

What type of files can be uploaded to the online system?

You can upload .jpg, .png, .pdf and .gif photo files. Photos of documents taken on a camera or smartphone are acceptable as long as they are legible.

Documentation must be submitted directly to WTW (formerly Willis Towers Watson), a consulting firm assisting with the project. The verification process can be completed online, by mail or via fax. Around 4,000 employees have received a verification packet via email and mailed to their home addresses from WTW.

Employees who do not provide the proper documentation to verify their dependents will have ineligible dependents removed, but there won't be a penalty for having had ineligible dependents on their plans. In September, Iowa State will provide a response to employees via mail and email regarding ineligible dependents, who will be removed from benefits enrollment records before open enrollment in November. Eligible dependents can be added to plans with required documentation during open enrollment, and changes to plans will be effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Why it's important

In addition to helping keep premiums as low as possible, verifying dependent eligibility can be especially important for longtime ISU employees who may not know that their plan has an ineligible dependent.

Health care costs are one of the largest components of the university's benefits plan and claims for ineligible individuals increase the total cost of health care benefits for all enrolled. Ed Holland, UHR director of benefits, said dependent eligibility reviews are a best practice in the benefits industry because they can monitor compliance with regulations and help control the costs of benefits. UHR currently verifies and will continue to verify dependents at hire, for a qualified life event and during open enrollment.

The decision to conduct a dependent eligibility verification project followed a recommendation from a state Board of Regents internal audit of the benefit plan administration in spring 2022. Findings from the audit highlighted the return on investment for dependent eligibility verification at seven other universities, six within the geographic region and one regent institution. The cost of the projects ranged from $136,000 to $389,000 -- ISU's will cost less than $136,000 -- and resulted in estimated savings ranging from $1 million to $4 million.

About dependents

Eligible dependents include:

  • Spouse: legally married in accordance with state law
  • Domestic partner: financially interdependent persons residing at the same address for at least one year who are not blood related and have not been married or in a domestic partnership with anyone else within the previous 12 months
  • Children: biological child, stepchild, adopted child, foster child or child for whom the employee has legal guardianship

Dependents can change from eligible to ineligible over time -- such as a child who is older than 26 or no longer a full-time student -- or due to life changes like a divorce or the end of a domestic partnership.

Employees can view their dependents in Workday.

  • Log in, click View Profile and select Benefits from the left side menu
  • Log in, click Menu on the right side and select Benefits from the listed apps

For assistance

Contact the WTW Dependent Verification Center at 1-855-722-9663 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST, Monday-Friday) with questions about the process. Additional information can be found in the verification packet provided by WTW and on the UHR website.