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Human Resources

Choice Benefits

Choice Benefits is the name of the University of Cincinnati's benefits programs that are offered to its eligible faculty and staff.  Eligibility is based upon classification, FTE, and other criteria. Choice Benefits enables eligible employees to select from various levels of coverage in each benefit plan.     

Choice

Available Benefits Plans

Benefit Plan Before-tax After-tax
Medical X  
Dental X  
Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts  X  
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts X  
Health Savings Account X  
Employee Life Insurance X  
Spouse/Domestic Partner Life Insurance   X
Child Life Insurance   X
Long Term Disability   X

Who is Eligible - Employees

Choice Benefits eligibility* is based upon classification, FTE, and other criteria.  Choice Benefits enables eligible employees to select from various levels of coverage in each benefit plan.

Employees are considered eligible for Choice Benefits*
if they are:

  • a full-time employee (100% FTE),
  • a part-time employee (80% FTE or greater),
  • AAUP-represented faculty/librarian, or COM faculty at 65% FTE or greater,
  • an annually appointed adjunct at 50%-64% FTE (medical and flexible spending accounts),
  • visiting faculty (80% FTE or greater),
  • post doc (medical, dental - 80% FTE or greater), or
  • interns (medical only - 80% FTE or greater).

*Eligibility for UC's benefit plans varies by employee subgroup.

Before-tax Benefits Defined

Employees do not pay federal, state, city, or Medicare taxes on their contributions to purchase before-tax benefits.  An employee's contributions for these benefits come out of his/her paycheck before taxes are calculated.  That is why these contributions are called before-tax contributions.  These before-tax contributions reduce taxable income.  Because taxes are figured on a lower amount of income, employees pay less tax.

Before-tax contributions offer employees valuable tax benefits.  Keep in mind that:

  • before-tax contributions are tax-exempt, not taxed-deferred,
  • taxes will not be due later, and
  • before-tax contributions do not affect other pay-related benefits.

Default Benefits Elections - Effective January 1, 2014

If an employee is enrolling for the first time, he/she will be enrolled in the following:

  • Medical - POS Employee Only (all other benefits-eligible employees)
  • Medical - HMO Employee Only (AAUP, ONA)
  • Dental - Basic Plan Employee Only
  • Employee Life Insurance - One times the employee's annual base pay.

An employee has 45 days from his/her initial eligibility date to make his/her enrollment decisions using Employee Self Service (ESS). Employees may waive participation in all plans other than Employee Life Insurance (employees must select a minimum of $5,000 coverage).

During the plan's annual enrollment period, employees' current year benefits will continue into the next calendar year, with the exception of the Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts.  Employees must re-enroll in these plans each calendar year.

Qualified Status Changes (QSC)

Family Status Changes - Changing Choices After Enrollment

For all of us, life is a continuous process of change - marriage, birth, adoption, a new job, divorce, and death.  Should one of these events occur in your life, you may need to make changes to your enrollment in certain UC benefits programs such as medical, dental, life insurance, Flexible Spending Accounts, or Health Savings Accounts.

Family Status Change

When a life-changing event occurs, you can make a mid-year change to your current benefit elections without waiting for the annual election period (typically in the fall of each year for the following calendar year).

In most cases, the effective date of the change of the "qualified" family status change is the "event date."  However, in some situations (divorce, legal separation, change to employment), the effective date of the change is the first of the month following the "event date."

  • The benefit change must be consistent with the type of qualified status change.  The type of benefit change permitted depends on the type of coverage involved.
  • The employee must notify the Human Resources Department of a qualified status change within 31 days of the qualified status change. 
  • If the 31-day deadline is missed, the employee must wait until the next enrollment period or the next status change to request the change.
  • Coverage category changes and other changes become effective on the date of the qualified status change.
Add a Dependent

The IRS permits a change to your annual election within 31 days of the following qualified family status events:

  • Marriage
  • Domestic Partner
  • Addition or Adoption of Dependent Child

Documentation must be submitted to add a dependent.  The Human Resources website has additional information on dependent verification.

For involuntary loss of coverage, you must submit a HIPAA Certificate of Coverage from the previous employer along with the other required documentation.

If due to a significant increase in the cost of benefits, you must provide confirmation from the employer providing coverage along with the other required documentation.

Remove a Dependent

The IRS permits a change to your annual election within 31 days of the following qualified family status events.  You must provide the documentation indicated.

Qualified Status Change Required Documentation
Death Copy of death certificate
Divorce, Legal Separation Divorce decree, legal separation documentation, annulment documentation
Dependent Obtains Coverage through Employer Letter from employer confirming coverage
Loss of Domestic Partner Status Notarized statement confirming loss of domestic partner status
Medicare or Medicaid Eligibility Copy of Medicare ID card or letter of Medicaid eligibility
Plan Enrollment Change Due to Relocation

Employees may submit a plan enrollment change due to the employee's relocation or the relocation of his/her spouse (available only if enrolled in the HMO and the employee's new residence is outside the HMO network).  The employee must submit proof of new residence.

Types of Changes

Below are examples of the types of changes that can be made to each benefit plan:

Choice Benefit Plan Type of Change
Dental Insurance Change from Dental Waiver to Basic Plan
Change coverage category (self, self plus one, family, self plus domestic partner, family plus domestic partner)
Add or delete dependents
Employee Life Insurance Increase coverage by one level
Decrease coverage to any level in the event of divorce or death
Change beneficiary any time
Family Life Insurance Increase coverage by one level
Decrease coverage to any level
Coverage may not exceed 50% of employee life insurance amount
Flexible Spending Account Start or stop contributions
Increase or decrease contributions within account limits
Long-term Disability No changes allowed
Medical Insurance Change plan option
Change coverage category (self, self plus one, family, self plus domestic partner, family plus domestic partner)
Add or delete dependents
Personal Accident Insurance Change from single to family coverage or vice versa if employee gains or loses a dependent

Employee contributions to the Health Savings Account can be made at any time. A qualified status change is not required.

NOTE: When an employee has a qualifying status change, it is also a good time to review beneficiary(ies) named to receive benefits in the event of death.  Changes in family situations do not automatically alter or revoke previous designations.  Prior designations remain valid until the employee completes a new designation form.  A will does not supersede a beneficiary designation.  Employees may change name or change beneficiaries at any time online via Employee Self Service (ESS).

When Coverage Ends

The benefit elections that an employee makes when initially eligible or during annual enrollment will remain in effect for the calendar year of the election as long as the employee remains an eligible employee of the university.  If employment is terminated either by the employee or the university, the employee's coverage will end.

The table below shows when an employee's coverage under each benefit plan ends if his/her employment were terminated.  It also shows what options the employee has to continue that coverage after termination.

Benefit Coverage End Options Available
Dental Insurance Last day of the month in which employment ends COBRA
Employee Life Insurance           
Last day of the month in which employment ends
Portability or Conversion available if elected and premium paid within 31 days of coverage termination
Family Life Insurance Last day of the month in which employment ends
Portability or Conversion may be available*
Flexible Spending Account
Last day of the month in which employment ends
Contributions may continue to the Health Care Account under COBRA on an after-tax basis.  No claims incurred after termination may be submitted for reimbursement, except if continued under COBRA
Health Savings Account Last day of the month in which employment ends Account value continues to be available for payment of IRS-qualified medical expenses
Long-term Care Last day of the month in which employment ends or end of month in which last premium was paid
Billed-at-home policy available
Long-term Disability Last day of active employment              
None
Medical Insurance Last day of the month in which employment ends
COBRA
Personal Accident Insurance Last day of the month in which employment ends
Coverage is portable if Employee Life Insurance is continued through that plan's portability feature
Tuition Remission Last day of term in which employment ends None

* Dependent/Family Life Insurance can only be ported if employee coverage is ported.