Benefits open enrollment begins Sept. 15

Carole Gary
Human Resources Director

Every year my husband and I sit down and make decisions about health insurance coverage for our family during our employers’ open enrollment. His open enrollment is on a weird schedule, so we really “get” to do this twice a year. The process is long, tedious, numbing, painful, and the resulting benefits, while very important, are not always transparent. Very similar to a root canal.

But, we owe it to ourselves to review the options and resist the easy temptation to “change nothing” and “do nothing” and just let the world turn. Long way of saying…it very much matters which plan you choose!

By now you should have received your 2016 Decision Guide and there are two things I wanted to highlight and share with you.

The first is a new plan called a Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) being offered this year with a companion Health Savings Account (HSA).

How is a CDHP different from a traditional plan? With CDHPs, you must meet your deductible, prescriptions included, before the plan pays anything. There are some exceptions to this: wellness services are covered at 100% and maintenance prescriptions are subject to co-insurance, but all other costs are subject to deductible. Once the deductible is met, you pay a percentage of the costs.

The CDHP will save you money in premium payments. Those savings are:

  • $450-$750 Employee Only
  • $1,153-$1,753 for Employee + Family

A good consumer would wisely take those savings and contribute that amount pre-tax into their HSA. You then use the HSA funds to pay for your medical and prescription expenses. The HSA is your personal account and there is no “use it or lose it” provision.

Additionally, for those who choose, or are eligible to participate in, the Wellness CDHP, the State is contributing $500 (employee only) and $1,000 (employee+family). This contribution will go into your HSA near the beginning of 2016 and you are fully vested in the contribution.

I have participated in a CDHP with a past employer, but I didn’t have an employer who contributed to my HSA. I loved the plan, but it’s not for everyone, which leads me to the second thing I wanted to share …

“Meet Alex”!  Go online to and let the very amusing and cheeky Alex help you decide what plan is best for you. It’s very hard to guide people through the process of choosing between a CDHP and a traditional plan because everyone’s situation is different, but Alex does it really well. Alex can help you make this very important decision!

And, if you just want to hear Lisa Guerrette and I talk about insurance and how it all works, please come to an open enrollment meeting! See the schedule below.

Hardin Valley
September 17, Thursday, 9 a.m., Goins 251
September 17, Thursday, 3:30 p.m., Goins 136/Auditorium
September 21, Monday, 9 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5 p.m., Goins 136/Auditorium

Blount County
September 29, Tuesday, 2:30 p.m., conference room

Strawberry Plains
October 1, Thursday, 2:00 p.m., room ST2630

Magnolia Avenue
October 2, Friday, 2:00 p.m., room 141A

Division Street
October 6, Tuesday, 2:30 p.m., room 220

Faculty, staff invited to Second Annual Employee Picnic

Pellissippi State hosts the Second Annual Employee Picnic 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Hardin Valley Campus. All faculty and staff, full- and part-time, and members of their households are invited to attend the free get-together.

A Doodle poll will be sent to employees via campus email to confirm attendance. RSVPs must be received no later than Friday, Oct. 9, so keep an eye out!

The Employee Picnic will feature entertainment, food, outdoor games and other activities, and door prizes for adults and children. Bring your own lawn chair or picnic blanket. This year’s theme is “Pellissippi Round Up,” so plan to get decked out in Western-style duds.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us and our families to be together and have some fun,” said Carole Gary, director of Human Resources. “It’s also a way to say thank you to our employees and their commitment to the College’s mission.”

This is a family-friendly event, so please do not bring alcohol, drugs or tobacco products, weapons or pets.

For more information, contact Yolanda Roebuck at

Service-Learning hosts Civic Engagement Week

Thursday kicks off a week of celebrations across all five campuses for Civic Engagement Week. Civic Engagement Week 2015, which is celebrated on campuses around the country, launches a year of community service opportunities. The Pellissippi State activities are hosted by the Service-Learning program, and the theme is “Wellness and Sustainable Living in Appalachia.”

The College’s Civic Engagement Week connects with the book chosen for this academic year’s Common Academic Experience, Jeff Biggers’ “The United States of Appalachia.” The week focuses on encouraging East Tennesseans to take good care of themselves and of the environment.

Event locations, dates and times:

Hardin Valley Campus

  • Call2Service — 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in the Goins Building College Center and Courtyard. Community partners come to campus to share how students can volunteer throughout the year.
  • 9/11 Day of Remembrance — 9-10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11, in the Courtyard. The event features a short talk by John Ruppe, a veteran and Pellissippi State security supervisor. The rain location is the College Center.
  • “Boatlift” — 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 11, in the College Center. A screening of this 9/11 short film, narrated by Tom Hanks, will be shown.
  • “One Year Down the Drain: Turkey Creek” — 11:50 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, in the Goins Building Auditorium. This event features Jason Scott, AmeriCorps project director, of the Knoxville Community Action Committee discussing an exclusive volunteer opportunity to clean waterways in Farragut and create found-objects artwork. Refreshments will be provided.
  • “The Gentle Barn: Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other, and the Planet” — 12:25-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, Goins Building Cafeteria Annex. Refreshments will be provided.
  • Lecture — 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, College Center
  • Constitution Day, “Freedom Isn’t Free: How Congress Really Works” — 2-3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Auditorium. Professor Jake Hamric delivers this faculty lecture. Refreshments and pocket copies of the Constitution will be provided.

Division Street Campus

  • Sustainability Kiosk — 11 a.m.-1 p.m.Thursday, Sept. 10 and 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, front lobby
  • KAT “Smart Trips” — 8:30-10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14, in the front lobby. KAT representatives will discuss “green” transportation options.
  • Call2Service — 8:30-11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 in the Educational Resources Center
  • Constitution Day — free pocket Constitutions available all day Thursday, Sept. 17, front lobby

Magnolia Avenue Campus

  • Call2Service — 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, in rooms 100 and 109
  • “Community Health Care in Appalachian East Tennessee” — 9:40-10:35 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16. Featuring Rich Connelly and Larry A. Stanifer of Rural Medical Services, Inc., this event is a co-curricular activity of Civic Engagement Week and the Common Academic Experience. 

Strawberry Plains Campus

  • Voter Registration Drive — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, and noon-2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Lobby

Contact the site directly to learn about Civic Engagement Week events being offered at the Blount County Campus.