Category: Benefits News

Changes are coming to the voluntary retirement plans

The University of Alabama System (UAS) is committed to providing our employees with competitive retirement benefits.  A comprehensive review of the UAS voluntary retirement plans was recently conducted to identify opportunities to streamline and simplify plan participation and administration while reducing fees. As a result of this review, UAS plans will transition from two providers, VALIC and TIAA, to one plan provider, TIAA. TIAA will be the sole provider to administer the UAS voluntary retirement plans beginning in the fall of 2019. Participants may continue to contribute to plans under VALIC or TIAA until the transition takes place.

As a result of this change, participants will benefit from:

  • Reduced plan fees
  • Easier access to participant account information
  • Simplified management of participant accounts
  • Enhanced investment options and financial services

There are no actions you need to take at this time

When the transition occurs this fall, retirement plan assets currently invested with VALIC will be transferred to TIAA. TIAA will provide additional education and retirement plan services to help participants make informed decisions about their financial future. TIAA is working to ensure participants will have all the information needed regarding this change and how they will be affected. Later this summer, additional transition details, including investment option changes, will be mailed to participants’ home address.

 We’ll help you through the transition

Retirement planning is important – to balance the desire to live well today, with the need to save and invest for tomorrow. As the transition moves forward, participants will be updated. TIAA will be onsite providing seminars and will be available to answer questions. Participants will continue to receive important information about these changes throughout the summer months. Please watch for and review all information you receive carefully so you can make the most of your retirement plan benefits.  If you are not currently participating in a voluntary retirement program, we hope you will take this opportunity to consider your options.

Changes to Group Term Life and AD&D Insurance

As of Jan. 1, 2013, the University-paid group term life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance is provided by The Standard instead of MetLife. At the same time, the minimum amount of coverage has been increased from $22,500 to $30,000. Also, employees will no longer be subject to a decrease in coverage when they reach the ages of 65 and 70. This graph shows new coverage amounts for UA employees.

Active faculty and staff should be aware of the additional group term life insurance benefits provided by the Teachers Retirement System (TRS). After one year of employment, TRS provides members with $15,000 in term life insurance and a pre-retirement death benefit equal to one year’s salary. For more information about TRS term life insurance benefits, go online to

Reminder:  Employees should regularly review their beneficiary information (including TRS) to ensure all information is current. For information on how to review or change beneficiaries, contact the HR Service Center at 348-7732.


New Preventive Services for Women’s Health

Women have unique biological factors that affect their health and well-being. Every woman should take a proactive approach to her health and understand the benefits of using preventive health care services. Until recently, women might have looked at preventive care as a burden, but now it can be thought of as an accessible and vital part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Because of changes made by the Affordable Care Act, women are now eligible to receive recommended preventive health care services such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer and prenatal care without having to pay a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. Having access to these new services ensures that women may receive important comprehensive medical care.

Under The University of Alabama’s current medical plan, female participants receive inpatient routine newborn care and cervical cancer vaccines covered at 100 percent with no co-pay and no deductible. For UA’s medical plan, the additional preventive health care services defined by the Affordable Care Act will be available at the beginning of UA’s new plan year on Jan. 1, 2013.

These new provisions give women an opportunity to educate themselves on women’s health issues while providing them with resources to stay healthy. In order to take advantage of the new women’s preventive services that will be covered at no cost to the employee, it is important to know what they are and how they can help.

A summary of the eight new additional women’s preventive services appears in this chart below.

For more information on preventive coverage and the Affordable Care Act, please visit or call Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama’s member customer service at 1-800-292-8868.

Health Care Reform and Its Impact on You

Health care reform will mean changes for each employee. While some changes required by the law have already been made, many others will be phased in over time.

To understand how health care reform affects UA employees, it is important to understand how the University’s group medical plan works. The UA medical plan is a self-funded health care plan, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama administers the plan for the University. Each month, employees with coverage pay a premium and the University contributes an amount on behalf of employees.

The monthly contributions from the employees and the University are put into a “bucket.” The funds in the plan bucket are used by Blue Cross to process claims received from health care providers.

For example, if an employee goes to the doctor and receives a covered service costing $100, the employee pays a $35 office co-pay at the time of the visit. After the visit, the doctor’s office bills Blue Cross $100 for the service rendered. Blue Cross deducts the office co-pay ($35) paid by the employee from the billed amount ($100) and then takes $65 from  the plan bucket to pay the doctor’s office.

Some health care reform changes will eliminate office co-pays or deductibles and are promoted as being free. This is not ultimately the case for a self-funded plan such as the University’s. While the employee may not be required to pay a co-pay or deductible, the cost has merely been shifted from the individual to the UA medical plan.

Using the previous example, if an employee is not required to pay a $35 co-pay for the service, the doctor’s office still bills Blue Cross $100. Instead of taking $65 from the bucket, Blue Cross now takes $100 to pay the doctor.

As additional health care reform changes are implemented in the coming months, it is important for each employee covered by the UA health insurance plan to be an informed consumer. Ultimately, all plan members and the University will still pay for services referred to as free.


Other Health Care Reform Issues 

In 2014, health care reform legislation will require up to $909,000 to be paid from UA’s medical plan to help health insurance companies manage the hard-to-predict cost of covering currently uninsured individuals across the nation.

Because UA’s medical plan is funded by both employees and UA, this will result in additional costs for both the University and UA plan members.