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Friday, March 26, 2010

Eligibility for Your Medical Benefits Plan

As we near the end of Open Enrollment I want to highlight some changes to the eligibility rules for our medical and dental plans. These mostly impact new employees coming in after the first of next month. Supervisors and all of us who recruit should know this information so we can use our benefits to recruit prospective talent. I believe we have a good story to tell.

Immediate Eligibility

Although this isn't completely new, I find that some people don't realize it. You are eligible for coverage under our medical and dental plan beginning on your hire date. You must allow a few days for sign-up, card printing and mailing, etc... but there is no waiting period after you're hired.

Part-time Employee Eligibility

This year for the first time we are extending eligibility to part-time employees. This doesn't cover temps, interns, contractors or any other casual labor. This eligibility extends only to those individuals who work regularly 20 hours per week or more and who the company classifies as a "Regular, Part-time Employee."

Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions

For now these are still legal, and we will have a 12-month exclusion period for all new employees hired after April 1, 2010. With immediate eligibility extending even to part-time employees the plan must protect itself from "adverse selection" which is the phenomenon whereby sick people single out our company simply for the immediate eligibility, get their illness officially diagnosed, covered and treated, and then quit. All employees who come over to Blue Cross from the UHC plan have creditable coverage under federal law and are exempt from pre-existing exclusions.

It is my understanding the Blue Cross is printing cards today and that all of you who have made your benefits choices, including those who are making no changes, should have your cards on time. We appreciate the time and attention everyone has given to this year's Open Enrollment process and believe we've found a quality, cost-effective program for FY '11.

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