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