Category: Benefits News

Healthcare Premium Deduction Changes

Medical, dental and vision premiums are currently collected one-month-in-advance. For example, premiums collected for medical insurance on your November check(s) pays for coverage in December. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, premiums will be collected in the current month for January coverage and continue for all subsequent months with the following impact:

  • All benefit-eligible employees who paid medical, dental or vision premiums via payroll deduction in November (which pays for December coverage) will have NO medical, dental or vision deductions on their December check(s). All deductions will resume in January 2022 to pay for the current month’s medical, dental, and/or vision coverage.
  • This premium deduction change will also impact when coverage ends in the event of termination of employment. Effective on or after Jan. 1, all medical, dental and vision coverage(s) will end the last day of the month of termination with the option to enroll in COBRA continuation coverage effective the 1st of the month following termination. For example, employee terminates on Jan. 25, 2022 will have medical, dental and/or vision coverage end on Jan. 31 with COBRA eligibility beginning Feb. 1.

In addition, the deduction schedules for all bi-weekly, non-exempt employee benefits will change:

  • Currently, there are 26 bi-weekly pay periods each year with medical premiums collected each pay period (i.e., 26 deductions per year), dental premiums collected on the 1st paycheck each month (i.e., 12 deductions per year), and vision premiums collected on the 2nd paycheck each month (i.e., 12 deductions per year), etc.
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2022, ALL bi-weekly benefit premiums will be deducted over 24 pay periods (i.e., only 1st and 2nd paycheck each month). This will standardize payroll deduction amounts for all benefits, making it easier for bi-weekly employees to understand and budget for recurring expenses.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Settlement

In October 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association reached a $2.67 billion settlement in a class-action antitrust lawsuit. If you were covered by any Blue Cross self-funded plan, including the University’s self-funded health plan, between Sept. 1, 2015 through Oct. 16, 2020 you may be eligible for a settlement payment. Additional information, including frequently asked questions, is available on the Blue Cross Blue Shield settlement website.

Both individual employees and UA’s self-funded health plan are considered part of the settlement class and are eligible to file a claim. Spouses and dependents, beneficiaries and non-employees are not part of the settlement class and not eligible to receive payment.

You must submit a valid claim online at www.BCBSsettlement.com or postmarked by mail no later than Nov. 5, 2021. Claim forms and additional information is available at www.BCBSsettlement.com or may be requested by calling (888) 681-1142.

Frequently Asked Question Highlights:

Q1. Will UA file on behalf of eligible employees? No, employees must file a claim on their own to be eligible for payment. The University is eligible to file separately as a self-funded health plan.

Q2. Do individual employees have to file a claim? No, filing a claim is voluntary, however, individual employees will be excluded from receiving any settlement payment unless a claim is filed by the deadline.

Q3. When is the deadline to file? Nov. 5, 2021

Q4. Do I need to collect and submit premium/administrative fee data to submit a claim? No, but you have the option to do so. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has produced premium and administrative fee data as maintained in the normal course of business, and the Claims Administrator will use that data to calculate claim payments.

Q5. Are spouses and dependents eligible to receive payment? No, they are not included in the settlement class and not eligible to receive payment.

Q6. The claim form asks for Group No. and Subscriber or Member ID. What are those? These fields are not required to submit a claim, but you have the option to include this information. Your Subscriber or Member ID is your Social Security Number and your Contract Number can be found on your Blue Cross Blue Shield ID card for the applicable coverage period. If you were enrolled on the UA self-funded health plan on or after Sept. 1, 2015, then the following Group No. may apply to your claim:

  • If enrolled from Sept. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2017, your Group No. was 79912
  • If enrolled between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2018, your Group No. was 74150
  • If enrolled after Jan. 1, 2019, your Group No. is 74150 (PPO) or 97368 (HDHP)

Q7. Do I need my subscriber or group ID to fill out the claim form? No, you do not need your subscriber or group ID to file a claim, and you should not reach out to your BCBS plan for that information. If you do not have that information, leave it blank and your claim will still be processed.

TIAA Financial Wellness Webinars May 11-13

TIAA is offering several one-hour live webinars from May 11-13 addressing a wide array of financial issues including information on responsible investing, 529 college savings plans, creating a paycheck for life, mid-career financial checkups and more. Click here for more information and how to enroll for the seminars.

TIAA Financial Consultants Available

For help enrolling or choosing investments in your retirement plan, consolidating previous employer retirement plans or IRAs, or conducting a holistic retirement planning consultation, schedule an appointment at TIAA.org/schedulenow, or email a TIAA financial consultant: Jared Gilbert, Jared.Gilbert@tiaa.org or Brad Propst, rpropst@tiaa.org. For immediate assistance for questions about your account, transactions or the TIAA.org website, call the National Contact Center at 800-842-2252, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

TIAA Financial Webinars October 13-15

TIAA is offering several one-hour live webinars from October 13-15 addressing a wide array of financial issues including retirement assets, Medicare, alternative investments, Health Savings Accounts and cybersecurity. Click HERE for more information and how to enroll for the seminars.

TIAA Webinars September 15-16

TIAA is offering several one-hour live webinars from September 15-16 addressing a wide array of financial issues including asset allocation, 529 college savings plans, the Presidential election and the economy, and saving for your ideal retirement. Click HERE for more information and how to enroll for the seminars.

New Paid Leaves and COVID-19 Accommodations Webinar

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides paid leave protections to employees who qualify for Emergency Paid Sick Leave and/or Expanded Family Medical Leave. Employees unable to work or telework due to a COVID-19-related reason, including childcare issues, may be eligible to request these paid leaves. In addition, employees who are members of vulnerable populations at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and/or employees who share a household with or have primary care responsibility for someone in a vulnerable population may request temporary, COVID-19 accommodations. Additional information is available on the HR website under the Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs.

Live, instructor-led webinars about the new leaves and COVID-19 accommodations will be held 2-3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 1, and 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Registration for the webinars is available in UA LMS. Direct questions to the HR Service Center at 205-348-7732 or hrsvctr@ua.edu.

Retirement Plans Webinar Scheduled for July 30

TIAA will host a retirement benefits webinar for all UA system employees on July 30 at 9:00 a.m. Participants will learn more about the retirement plans offered by TIAA and how they complement the TRS pension.  Other topics include: the importance of starting to save early, budgeting, investing 101 basics, social security, and basic money management principles.  Register here.

Special TIAA Seminar on Recent Market Volatility

A TIAA Financial Essentials webinar

Global Lookout: When is it safe to come out?

Join us for a special webinar where Brian Nick, Nuveen Chief Investment Strategist,
will share his perspective on the recent market volatility.

He will cover what’s driving current volatility, some strategies to help you deal with
the current market swings, as well as what this could mean for you.

Register today for this live webinar on Wednesday, March 25, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (ET).

Featured speaker:
Brian Nick, CAIA
Nuveen Chief Investment Strategist

Brian has over fifteen years of experience analyzing economic and market data and developing
investment strategies for client portfolios.

As Chief Investment Strategist, Brian is a member of Nuveen’s Global Investment Committee, where he
works closely with the firm’s investment leaders to identify investment trends and provide insights on
events driving market activity. He is also a voting member of the asset allocation committee of Nuveen’s
parent company, TIAA. Previously, Brian served as Head of Tactical Asset Allocation for UBS Wealth
Management Americas, and as a senior investment strategist at Barclays Wealth. He began his career in
the Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Brian graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Government from Dartmouth College and a
master’s degree in Economics from New York University, and holds the designation of Chartered
Alternative Investment Analyst® (CAIA®).

Register and view the full information 

2020 Teacher’s Retirement Systems Seminars

2020 TRS Retirement Preparation Seminars

If you are within 5 years of retirement eligibility, learn more about your RSA Benefits at a 2020 TRS Retirement Preparation Seminars. Register online at www.rsa-al.gov or mail in a completed registration form.

Dates for Tuscaloosa are: March 4th, March 5th, October 14th, and October 15th. Dates for other locations can be found here

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2020 TRS Early to Mid Career Seminars

The Retirement Systems of Alabama proudly offers our half-day seminars that focus on your retiremetn and insurance benefits. If you’ve just began work in public education or have less than 20 years of TRS service credit and are less than 55 years of age, then you are eligible to attend. You can register online now at  http://www.rsa-al.gov or mail in a completed registration form.

Dates for Tuscaloosa are: March 3rd. Dates for other locations can be found here.

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.