September 12, 2008

Dear Colleagues:

This note will update you on 2009 Open Enrollment benefits, the UMatter Employee Discount Program, and parking/transportation.

First, some context: To achieve the University’s vision of excellence, we need to be a place where smart, talented, ambitious people want to spend their careers. Many factors go into that very personal decision, but clearly compensation and benefits play an important role.

Last year, we introduced a new staff compensation plan that will help us monitor the competitiveness of our compensation vis a vis the market.

With respect to benefits, our efforts have been designed to improve our benefit plans —to make the University an even more attractive place to work—while minimizing cost increases to faculty and staff wherever possible. I think you will find that to be the case in the new year.

Following are some of the highlights of our 2009 health care plans:
Aetna will replace Humana as the administrator of our medical plans. Aetna’s local physician network is as large, or larger, than Humana’s, and they offer a national network for all plans (which Humana lacked for its HMOs), which will add value for those of you with covered dependents who live outside South Florida.

All of Aetna’s plans will be “open access,” meaning a referral from a primary care physician is not required prior to scheduling an appointment with a specialist. You may recall that we decided to test “open access” this year. So far, so good, so we’ll continue it for next year.

We continue to add preventive-care services. This year, we are adding a free annual skin cancer screening by a UM dermatologist and, for a modest cost, up to three consultations with a registered dietician for nutritional counseling. 

Aetna will offer four plans that are similar to our current offerings. There will be no increase in copays/coinsurance. To view 2009 medical plan details, click here. We are mindful of the impact that the increased cost of living is having on faculty and staff and have attempted to minimize premium increases. To view 2009 medical plan premiums, click here.

The medical plans will include a $20 monthly Spouse/Partner Surcharge that will apply to spouses/partners who are eligible to participate in another employer-sponsored medical plan, but choose to participate in the University’s plan instead. The surcharge will not apply to a spouse/partner who does not have access to medical coverage through his/her employer. For more information click here.

Dental plans will have slightly reduced premiums. Delta Dental will be the new administrator for the PPO dental plan which offers enhanced benefits.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating benefit options, but I’d like to call your attention to some specific opportunities:

  • The Aetna POSII HRA (Health Reimbursement Account): This is one of the four medical plans that you may choose. It has the lowest monthly premiums and for many of you, would be the best choice. For the first time, this plan includes a $600 fund per individual (maximum of $1,800 per family) paid by the University that can be rolled over to the following year, if not used in its entirety. Check it out. Be sure you understand how the plan works before making your selection.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA): WageWorks will be our new FSA administrator. They will provide enhanced reimbursement options and customer service. Utilizing the FSA is an easy way to reduce your taxes and save money. Currently, only 12 percent of our employees take advantage of this pre-tax savings. Many people are concerned by the “use it or lose it” IRS requirement. However, with conservative assumptions, utilizing an FSA is a low-risk way to save money. Benefits Administration will host Flexible Spending Account Lunch and Learn sessions during Open Enrollment. To view the schedule, click here.
  • Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance: The cost of long-term care is an emerging societal issue as people live longer and outlive their savings. In addition, many younger people are finding themselves in need of LTC insurance. Currently 40 percent of those receiving long-term care are adults under age 64. LTC policies are available for employees and their dependents, including parents/grandparents. Participants can take advantage of the University’s group rate. During Open Enrollment, employees who enroll in LTC will be automatically approved without having to provide any medical information. It is something worth considering. Benefits Administration will be hosting Lunch and Learn sessions. To view the schedule, click here.

2009 Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment will run from October 20 to November 7. Open Enrollment Benefit guides will be distributed via interoffice mail by late September. There will be plenty of time to evaluate plan offerings, ask questions, and make informed decisions. Visit the Open Enrollment Web site for more detailed information.

UMatter Employee Discount Program
We are looking for other ways that the University can add value for our employees, including expanding our discount offerings. New vendors that have agreed to offer discounts to UM employees include Tire Kingdom and Tickets at Work (which provides discounts and special offers for theme parks and attractions nationwide). They join Office Max, Apple, Grainger, and some hotel and rental car companies in offering preferred pricing to UM employees. To learn more, click here.

Parking and Transportation
The University continues to implement green practices and look for ways to help faculty and staff manage transportation costs. In addition to the Public Transportation Program that was launched last year, you may want to consider the following options:

  • UM parking discounts are available to individuals who drive hybrid cars. For more information, contact Parking on the Coral Gables campus at 8-3096 and on the Miller School campus at 6-6280.
  • South Florida Commuter Services Emergency Ride Home Program offers registered commuters seven-day, 24-hour access for up to six free taxi rides per year anywhere in the Tri-County area during a personal/family emergency or for unscheduled overtime. To learn more, click here. Commuters can register for this program by calling 1-800-234-RIDE.
  • Zipcars are now available on the Coral Gables campus. Zipcar is an innovative car-sharing program that provides the flexibility and convenience of having a car without owning or leasing a vehicle. To learn more, click here.

As always, your feedback is appreciated. You can email me at


Joe Natoli
Senior Vice President for Business and Finance
and Chief Financial Officer

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