Stanford encourages employees to review and confirm 2019 medical plan coverage

Stanford will offer free employee-only coverage through Kaiser Permanente in 2019. Rates will increase for employees who choose plans other than Kaiser for employee-only coverage. Next year, Stanford is increasing the university contribution to employees who enroll in the Stanford Health Care Alliance plan to mitigate cost increases in the plan.

Open Enrollment, which begins Monday, Oct. 22, and extends through Friday, Nov. 9 (11:59 p.m. Pacific Time), is the annual opportunity for employees to make changes to their health benefits and to add or drop eligible dependents from coverage.

Open Enrollment logo

Stanford employees can change their health insurance benefits and add or drop dependents during Open Enrollment from Monday, Oct. 22, through Friday, Nov. 9. (Image credit: YinYang / Getty Images)

If employees choose not to act during Open Enrollment, their medical, dental and vision coverage will “roll over” and reflect the 2019 premiums.

Each year, employees must re-enroll in the following plans: Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and the Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Employees who have been awarded a Child Care Subsidy Grant (CCSG) from Stanford must log into the My Benefits portal during Open Enrollment to accept the grant.

University Human Resources (UHR) provides extensive information – in printed materials, on its website, in a webinar and in Open Enrollment fairs and information sessions – so employees are able to review and confirm their health and life plans. Those who don’t review and confirm their health and life plans by Nov. 9 will have to wait until the next Open Enrollment period to make changes, unless they experience a qualifying life event, such as marriage, adding a dependent or a change to their job status.

In 2019, employee contribution rates will remain the same for employees who choose the Kaiser Permanente HMO medical plan, which is free for employee-only coverage.

Employee contribution rates will rise for health care offered through Stanford Health Care Alliance; EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization); Healthcare + Savings Plan; and the ACA Basic High Deductible Health Plan.

Among the key changes in 2019:

  • Stanford is partnering with MetLife to offer critical illness insurance to benefits-eligible faculty and staff, which provides a lump-sum payment in the event that an employee or covered family member is diagnosed with a medical condition that is covered by the critical illness plan. Employees pay the premiums with after-tax dollars through a payroll deduction.
  • Stanford is partnering with Hyatt Legal Plan to offer benefits-eligible faculty and staff access to comprehensive legal services at an affordable cost through MetLaw. There are no copays or deductibles. Employees pay premiums with after-tax dollars through payroll deductions and you can receive unlimited legal access by phone or in-person.
  • Contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are increasing, both for individual-only coverage and for family coverage. Individual-only HSA limits will increase to up to $3,500 of pre-tax dollars, up from $3,450 this year. Family HSA limits will increase up to $7,000 of pre-tax dollars, up from $6,900 this year.
  • Contribution limits for Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) will increase to $2,650, up from $2,600 in 2018.
  • Stanford Health Care Alliance (SHCA) is expanding its network in 2019 to include select Brown & Toland physicians located in San Francisco and in the northern peninsula area of San Mateo counties, as well as Washington Township Medical Foundation physicians in the Fremont region. A list of physicians and clinics that will join the SHCA network next year will be available soon on the organization’s website.

What will stay the same?

  • Stanford will continue to offer five medical plans in 2019: Kaiser Permanente HMO; Stanford Health Care Alliance; Aetna Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO); Blue Shield Healthcare + Savings; and Blue Shield ACA Basic High Deductible.
  • Stanford, which offers free, employee-only coverage through the lowest-cost plan, will continue to offer that benefit to employees who enroll in the Kaiser HMO plan.
  • All copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums will stay the same in 2019.
  • Stanford continues to offer vision and dental plans as part of its comprehensive health benefits.

To compare plans, employees and retirees can use the 2019 Plan Comparison Tool on the Cardinal at Work website to compare medical and dental plans, as well as plan costs.

How are rates set?

Medical plan premiums are based on forecasts of what it will cost to provide health care to all employees and their dependents next year. The forecasts are based on a number of factors, including the previous year’s claims and the demographics of the workforce.

Each year, Stanford decides what portion of the premiums the university will pay, based on the price of the lowest-cost plan. Stanford uses a percentage of the lowest-cost plan to determine how much the university will subsidize other plans.

Historically, Stanford has paid 100 percent of the total premium of the lowest-cost plan for employee-only coverage, a dollar amount that becomes the basis of its subsidy for other plans. When employees choose a plan other than the lowest-cost plan, their premium is the difference between the lowest-cost plan and their plan. As the cost of other plans rises, so does the cost to employees.

This year, the difference between the cost of the Kaiser HMO and the other medical plans increased so much that Stanford decided to increase the subsidy for employees enrolled in the Stanford Health Care Alliance plan to mitigate the price increases.

How to learn more

Visit the Open Enrollment microsite to review detailed information about health and life benefits for 2019.

Starting Wednesday, Oct. 24, Stanford Benefits will offer Open Enrollment Fairs, information sessions and webinars to help employees and retirees understand their options in 2019.

The Open Enrollment Fairs (Oct. 24, 29, 31 and Nov. 6) for employees bring together more than a dozen Stanford providers in one room – at four different campus locations – so individuals may ask questions and learn more about their services. The Open Enrollment Fairs takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participating providers include Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, Blue Shield, Stanford Health Care, Health Net, Genworth, Delta Dental, Vanguard, MetLife, along with the Stanford BeWell Program, the Health Improvement Program of Stanford Medicine, the Stanford WorkLife Office and more.

Stanford’s benefits experts will hold nine information sessions at various campus locations between Oct. 24 and Nov. 9. The hour-long sessions include an overview of Stanford’s health plans and details of what’s changing and what’s staying the same. The meetings will close with a brief Q&A sessions. Note: Plan providers do not attend the information session.

Stanford’s benefits experts have also scheduled an online seminar from 10-11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, to present the changes employees can expect in 2019.

Stanford BeWell – Your Employee Wellness Program

In 2019, all benefits-eligible employees can earn up to $560 in a taxable incentive for completing the Stanford Health and Lifestyle Assessment (SHALA) and the following activities according to deadlines:

  • Wellness Profile ($200), which includes attending a screening session, discussing wellness concerns with a BeWell Coach, and creating a brief action plan that identifies goals and strategies.
  • Engagement ($260), for which employees choose one of the following four options to further enhance their well-being: Coaching, Class, Commitment to Family or Community, and Healthy Work Environment.
  • Berries ($100), which are six health-related activities of the employee’s choosing—including exercise classes, fitness assessments and workshops—that help put wellness goals into action.

BeWell is offering the maximum incentive to all benefits-eligible employees whether they elect to receive medical benefits from Stanford or another organization.

In addition to monetary incentives, participating benefits-eligible employees also receive perks such as discounted fitness classes, free access to select Stanford athletic events, and free personal training sessions.

A spouse or registered domestic partner of a benefits-eligible employee can earn a $220 taxable incentive if he or she completes the Wellness Profile and the employee meets program requirements and is employed by Stanford University at the time of payout (February 2020).