Annual benefits enrollment period now open

Craig Chandler | University Communication
Craig Chandler | University Communication

NUFlex open enrollment, the annual period for employees to enroll in or make changes to University of Nebraska benefits plans, is Oct. 31 to Nov. 18.

For the first time in nine years, health insurance premiums for medical benefits will increase. Premiums for dental and vision insurance, deductibles and prescription drug copays will not increase in 2017.

As indicated in a Sept. 27 message from University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, the health insurance premium increase will be 10 percent for both employee and employer contributions.

In the message, Bounds wrote that the university, in consultation with its independent actuaries, determined that the increases are necessary to manage significant growth in high-cost claims and claims overall that the university is experiencing. And, as health care costs in general are also rising, the premium increases will help ensure the long-term stability of the university's health plan.

The NUFlex open enrollment period is the only time university employees can make benefits package changes during the calendar year. Open enrollment is completed through the Firefly employee portal.

Nebraska's health care plan with Blue Cross and Blue Shield will include two new and expanded services in 2017. Those services are:

- Fit4D, a new diabetics management program that offers one-on-one coaching and guidance on drug therapies and lifestyle choices. This program is offered in addition to the BluePartners disease management program.

- Telehealth, which offers access to licensed medical providers via computer, tablet or phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service is primarily for common conditions like sinus infection, cold, flu, ear infection and sore throat. The program will expand to offer behavioral health services in 2017. Telehealth visits are subject to in-network deductibles and co-insurance rates, however, the service is often less expensive than a typical doctor's office visit.

Information on these new services and the entire benefits enrollment process will be offered to University of Nebraska–Lincoln employees during a benefits open house on Nov. 1. For more information on the open house, visit

Brian Schlichting, assistant director of university-wide benefits for the University of Nebraska, stressed that all employees must designate their individual tobacco and nicotine use during the NUFlex period.

"Even if you are making no changes in coverage, it is important that you complete enrollment," Schlichting said. "Employees who do not complete the designation of tobacco and nicotine use, or do not see it listed on the final confirmation statement, will be paying tobacco-use premiums in 2017."

Employees can also complete the Health Risk Assessment to receive enhanced wellness benefits and set flexible spending account levels.

Wellness benefits available through completion of the assessment include an annual preventative care allowance of $300 for adults and $600 for children ($250 and $500, respectively without the assessment); free generic drugs if ordered through the Caremark mail service (zero copay); and a free colonoscopy (100 percent coverage) every 10 years starting at age 50.

Employees have the option to create flexible spending accounts for both health care and dependent care. The accounts hold a designated amount of pre-tax pay in reserve for medical and dependent care bills. The maximum designation for the health care flex spending accounts is $2,550 for individual adults. The maximum annual designation for dependent care flex spending is $5,000. The minimum designation for both types is $480 annually, or $40 per month.

Schlichting said a NUFlex information session will be available here: The session is 9:30 a.m. Oct. 31. The session will allow participants to ask questions and will be archived online.

When enrollment is complete, Schlichting said a NUFlex confirmation form will be automatically emailed to employees for review.

Other important 2017 benefits notes include:

  • The process to apply for new or increases in life insurance policies will again be paperless. All forms are now completed through Assurity via links on the NU benefits website.

  • The "Employee Plus One" option is again being offered by the university. The program allows employees to extend benefits coverage to an adult designee of the same or opposite gender who has: lived with the employee for at least 12 consecutive months and intends to remain so; is at least 19 years old; is directly dependent upon or independent with the employee, sharing a common financial obligation that can be documented; and is not currently married to or legally separated from another individual. Enrollment in the Employee Plus One option must be completed in the UNL benefits office by 5 p.m. Nov. 18.

Employees who have questions about benefits should contact the campus benefits office at 402-472-2600 or in 32 Canfield Administration Building.

- Nebraska Today

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