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including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year
Health Care Updates

By Muriel Flynn,

human resources manager

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 03 - September 11, 1997

Following are updates which affect the Employee Health Benefits Program. These changes (effective July 1, 1997) are the result of the appropriations act passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor as well as some policy changes by the Department of Personnel and Training.

Waiting Periods for Pre-existing Conditions:

There will no longer be waiting periods for pre-existing conditions under the Key Advantage Plan. Our other health-insurance-plan options have not had waiting periods for pre-existing conditions.

Open Enrollment Periods for Health Insurance and Flexible Reimbursement Programs:

The act requires that the current health-insurance-plan year be extended from Dec. 31, 1997 through June 30, 1998, changing the plan year from a calendar year to a fiscal year. Although there is no open enrollment for Key Advantage and Cost Alliance this fall, enrollees will be allowed to add or drop dependents, but not change plans or optional plan benefits. The next regular open enrollment for health insurance will be May, 1998 for an effective date of July 1, 1998. We will be announcing this again in the spring.

There will be a fall 1997 open enrollment period for the flexible-spending accounts and premium conversion since these plans will continue to have a calendar-year-plan year. We will provide more information to these participants as we receive it.

Status Change is a qualifying event that provides option(s) to change membership/plans: marriage, divorce, birth of a child, loss of dependent eligibility, etc.

When an employee experiences a status change, they will be allowed to make a change in membership only. These changes must be made no later than 31 calendar days after the qualifying event occurs.

The employee will only be allowed to make a change in plan during the Open Enrollment Period (May 1998) or when he or she moves out of a plan's service area.

Number of Payroll Deductions for Flexible Reimbursement Program Participants:

The deductions for employees participating in this program are deducted over a 23-pay-period cycle for calendar year 1997 rather than 24 pay periods. Participants will notice an increase in their net pay in the end of the year pay.

Prescription Drug Coverage and Co-Pay Amount:

The Key Advantage and Cost Alliance Plans now cover oral contraceptives, depo-provera, and diaphragms for contraceptive use under the outpatient prescription drug program.

To cover the added expense of providing this benefit, drug co-payments have increased by $1.

Premiums:

As the plan year has changed from a calendar year to a fiscal year there will be no change in premium on Jan. 1, 1998 for Key Advantage and Cost Alliance for employees, active or early retirees, or any other individual who pays a premium.

** The state has increased its contribution into the health benefits fund to assure the continued financial stability of the program through that date.

Questions or comments regarding the health-care program may be directed to Benefits Staff, Southgate Center, 1-7779 or 1-3781. E-mail: dslewis@vt.edu or hwebster@vt.edu. Please visit our web site at http://www.ps.vt.edu/.