By Linda DuShane White
November is Open Enrollment time for benefits, and this
year some important changes are coming.
An Open Enrollment Web site will be activated beginning
November 1 with complete benefits information and materials available
(http://benefitsu.stanford.edu). This year, for the first time, every
employee will be enrolling online via this BenefitSU Web site.
Open Enrollment at a Glance
• Open Enrollment begins on November 1 at 7 a.m. and
ends November 22 at midnight.
• SLAC’s Benefits Fair is Thursday, November 7, from
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Panofsky Auditorium Breezeway.
• Other Benefits Fairs will be held at Stanford
(check website for details).
• All SLAC employees should have received a 2003
Open Enrollment guide at home by October 31.
• If you have not received your guide by November 7
contact the SLAC Benefits Office (ext. 2356).
• New/changed benefits become effective on January
Even if you do not intend to make changes in your benefits
at Open Enrollment, SLAC Benefits Manager Teresa Cervantes encourages all
employees to look at their packages. "Open them, please!" she said. "Maybe
your medical plan is not changing, but your co-pay could be changing or
maybe your provider is not available any longer. It’s really important.
It’s better to know at Open Enrollment than when you’re standing in the
Another important consideration is prescription drugs.
"Each plan has its own formulary of drugs that are covered," Cervantes
said. "So we think, ‘If my doctor is prescribing a medicine it will be
covered.’ That’s not always the case. Especially if employees are
switching medical plans, they want to make sure about their coverage. Even
if a drug was covered under their previous plan it may not be covered
under the new plan." Furthermore, the formulary can change from one year
to the next even under the same plan.
Changes are in Store
Monthly insurance rates are going up for 2003 and there
will be changes in co-pay for medical appointments as well as for
prescriptions. Most of the medical providers will remain the same. If you
choose to keep the medical and dental insurance plans that you already
have you do not need to take any action.
However, those of you who have Blue Cross (CaliforniaCare)
will be automatically transferred to the PacifiCare Plan effective January
1, 2003, unless you designate a different provider at Open Enrollment. The
CaliforniaCare plan will continue through the end of this year. Cervantes
advises to be sure to check and see if your doctors are available through
A new option this year is Definity Health*, a
consumer-driven health plan. Stanford will deposit from $1,000-$2,000 (the
amount depends on the number of family members covered) in a personal care
account. "From that," says Cervantes, "an employee will pay for health
care expenses. Once that money is used up the employee is responsible for
a $500 deductible. After the deductible plus the Stanford deposit is used
up, the plan becomes more like a PPO. The employee has a choice of any
provider and most providers will accept it."
Cervantes said, "This plan is probably for the employee
that is pretty healthy and doesn’t go to the doctor a whole lot."
(*NOTE: As of 10/30/02, Definity
Health is no longer available. Their contract with Stanford has been
Key Mistakes to Avoid
When asked what mistakes people often make she said, "The
biggest thing we’ve seen every year for the past 12 years is that
employees forget that the Health Care and Dependent Day Care Spending
Accounts, which are the pre-tax savings accounts, have to be renewed. That
is an IRS rule not a Stanford rule. So where everything else just rolls
over to the next plan year (unless you wish to change to a different plan)
you must re-enroll in the health care and dependent care tax-free funds."
Plan to Attend the Benefits Fair
According to Cervantes, "We expect to have vendors here
for medical, dental, life insurance, long term care and the retirement
plans. Representatives from the Stanford Credit Union and the Stanford
Clinic come too."
For more information, see: