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Total Rewards frequently asked questions

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What is dependent eligibility verification?

Dependent eligibility verification is a process in which an employer asks employees to provide proof that dependents remain eligible for coverage under their insurance plans.

In February of 2017, UM System coordinated with Conduent HR Services to conduct a dependent eligibility verification. To learn more, visit our dependent eligibility verification frequently asked questions

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What’s changing with health care reform and/or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

Included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (health care reform) is a mandate for employers to offer medical coverage to employees who average 30 hours or more across all jobs over a defined measurement period.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, are there any changes for fully benefit-eligible employees?

No, there are no changes for employees who are already fully benefit eligible (.75 full-time equivalency (FTE) and at least a 9 month appointment). The information regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) measurement period applies to variable hour employees (part‐time) who do not currently receive benefits.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What is a “measurement period” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

The term “measurement period” indicates a time frame for the employer to look back to determine if an employee met the 30-hour requirement. The university evaluates variable-hour employees only; fully benefit-eligible employees are eligible for medical insurance by definition and therefore do not need measurement.

There are two types of measurement periods: (a) new-hire measurement periods and (b) ongoing measurement periods. See the “medical insurance eligibility” webpage to read the definitions.

The first ongoing measurement period for the University of Missouri (UM) System was October 4, 2013, through October 3, 2014 (12 months). Employees who averaged 30 hours or more over this 12-month period, were offered medical coverage for 2015. The first new-hire measurement period was November 1, 2013, to October 31, 2014.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Why does the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) ongoing “measurement period” start October 4?

The measurement, administrative, and stability periods have been determined based on current practices. The UM System wants to make sure the stability (coverage) period for variable-hour employees who are eligible for medical insurance mirrors that of the plan year for fully benefit-eligible employees (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) and provides variable-hour employees the same plan year and annual deductible period as fully benefit-eligible employees.

Please note: The stability period is Jan. 1 – Dec. 31 of each year only for ongoing eligible employees. The stability period for new hires or newly eligible employees varies.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What is a “stability period” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

For the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the short answer is that a “stability period” is the period you are guaranteed coverage. Once the UM System offers you medical insurance, you are guaranteed to have coverage for a 12-month stability period provided you enroll for insurance in the first 31 days of your stability period. In other words, you cannot lose your insurance coverage from the UM System even if your average hours worked drop below 30 hours per week, as long as you enroll within the first 31 days and assuming you do not separate from the university.

Keep in mind that you may have to enroll in a medical plan more than once per year when you are first offered insurance. That’s because your new-hire stability period varies, tracking with your new-hire measurement period, but it does not necessarily track with the ongoing measurement period.

The new-hire process is as follows:

Process Measurement Period Administrative Period Stability Period
  12 months when the UM System measures variable-hour employees’ work hours. Beginning and end dates vary based on the date an employee starts work. The UM System reviews the measurement period data and prepares offers to those variable-hour employees qualifying for medical insurance coverage. 12 months following the administrative period in which an eligible employee cannot become ineligible for insurance, assuming they enroll within the first 31 days of the stability period and do not separate from the university.

The new-hire measurement period varies based on your hire date, but the ongoing measurement period is always October 4 of one year to October 3 of the next year. If you intersect the middle of the ongoing measurement period, then you will receive an offer to enroll in medical insurance more than once per year.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Do “measurement periods” for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) remain the same?

Employers have the ability to change the measurement period under the regulations. At this point, it is not expected that the measurement period will change. However, as we navigate through the first few measurement, administrative, and stability periods, we will continue to evaluate whether this is the most appropriate time period for variable-hour employees and the UM System.

The new-hire measurement period varies based on your hire date, but the ongoing measurement period is always October 4 of one year to October 3 of the next year. If you intersect the middle of the ongoing measurement period, then you will receive an offer to enroll in medical insurance more than once per year.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What does “variable-hour employee” mean under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

A variable-hour employee is one who works for the university but is not fully benefit eligible. In the past, the term “part‐time” has most commonly been used.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How do I learn more about the university-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans?

This document is available to offer answers to frequently asked questions about the university-sponsored, gruop Mecdicare Advantage plans available through UnitedHealthcare effective January 1, 2017.

FAQs: University-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans (PDF, 191KB)

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Will retiree insurance change for current retirees on 1/1/18?

Changes to retiree insurance eligibility and subsidies, effective in 2018, have little effect on current retirees. All current retirees, as well as their spouses and other dependents, who are enrolled in UM’s insurance plan(s) will:

  • Retain their UM insurance coverage—including medical, dental, life, and vision insurance.
  • Retain the current subsidy from UM—including subsidies for spouses and other dependents.

In other words, if you are a current retiree, the changes being communicated to active employees do not impact you. For a list of all current plans available to retirees—including dental, vision, and life—visit the retiree benefits overview on the Total Rewards website.

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What research was conducted to support the changes to retiree insurance?

The Retiree Medical Study provided the research on which the Total Rewards Advisory Committee (TRAC) made its deliberations when developing its retiree insurance recommendations, which have since been approved. For more information, access the Retiree Medical Study webpage or the Changes to retiree insurance webpage.

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How will retiree insurance change for current faculty and staff on January 1, 2018?

Under the approved changes, employees’ eligibility for retiree insurance benefits, as well as their eligibility for a UM System premium subsidy, will be different depending on their age and years of service. Visit the Changes to retiree insurance webpage for general information on eligibility, or access the resources below, which can be especially helpful in determining how you will be affected:

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When deciding which Access Category I am in, does UM round my age and years of service?

Effective January 1, 2018, employee’s eligibility for the university’s retiree insurance plans will change. Eligibility will differ based on whether an employee falls into Access Category A, B, C, or D. The Access Category you are assigned to is based on whole numbers; partial years are not counted. For example, if you are age 50.5 and have 5.5 years of service, you drop the half a year on each and add 50 and 5. In this example, the calculation is 50 + 5 = 55. It’s not 50.5 + 5.5 = 56.

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Do changes to retiree insurance affect all retiree insurance benefits, or just medical plans?

The changes pertain to eligibility and subsidies for these retiree insurance plans: medical, dental, and vision. In the future, as recommended by TRAC, the university will conduct a review of retiree life insurance as well to leverage the marketplace and provide focused value to retiree needs. 

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How does an employee become eligible for UM retiree insurance right now?

Prior to 1/1/2018, or for those employees in Access Category A, an employee is eligible for retiree insurance if he/she is:

  • Eligible for retirement* and
  • Enrolled in a UM insurance plan prior to retirement

This is the structure of retiree insurance benefits and applies to any employee retiring before January 1, 2018, or any employee in Access Category A. Changes to retiree insurance take effect on January 1, 2018, and change eligibility criteria. Read about how eligibility criteria changes in 2018.

* Learn about current retirement eligibility criteria by watching the Retirement eligibility and the defined Benefit Plan on-demand online seminar.

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What tools are available to help me with my retirement decision?

If you're interested in tools that can help you decide if it is better to retire before retiree insurance benefit options change or to wait until later, the university has many resources to support you.

In summer of 2016, UM mailed personalized retirement estimates to employees who wanted to better understand their retirement options. To better understand your retirement options now, you may use UM’s Retirement Calculator to estimate what your pension payout would be if you retired at different points in time.

The decision of whether and when to retire is an individual decision and involves many factors, including pension benefits, other retirement savings, medical coverage options, and an individual’s own career and personal aspirations. UM cannot provide retirement advice, but both Fidelity and TIAA offer free, objective retirement guidance and education on every campus. Visit the Changes to retiree insurance webpage for tools and resources.

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If I have a sick or vacation time accrued, what happens to it when I retire?

When you retire, you will receive day-for-day service credit for accrued sick leave, and there is no cap on sick leave accruals. 

For unused accrued vacation time, you will receive service and salary credit. Unused accrued vacation time is paid out over time at retirement; there are caps on vacation accrual based on your accrual rate. 

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Who are the in-network providers for my medical insurance plan with UnitedHealthcare?

The list of in-network providers for each medical plan is available online from UnitedHealthcare's website. If you already have a myUHC.com account, log in to view your list of network providers and facilities. If you do not yet have an account, you may visit the comparison website created by UnitedHealthcare for university employees.

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What happens to my service credit if I become disabled in 2017, prior to retiree insurance changes?

The years of service credit necessary to retire and to enroll in retiree insurance will be measured the same way in 2018 as it has always been. In other words, the changes to retiree insurance have no effect on how service credit is accrued.

Under the changes to retiree insurance that go into effect on January 1, 2018, each employee is placed in an access category based on the employee’s status as of December 31, 2017, whether an employee is on Long Term Disability (LTD) or not. If an employee was vested before going on LTD, his/her service credit up to and including December 31, 2017, will be counted. If an employee is NOT vested when the LTD leave begins, he/she will not accrue service credit up to and including December 31, 2017.

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If an employee retires and returns to a benefit-eligible position, could this benefit change again?

We can't tell you absolutely that retiree insurance will never change again. But at this time, we don’t anticipate additional changes. If an employee retires and comes back to a benefit-eligible position, the person would return to their original access category they were in based on age and years of service as of Dec. 31, 2017.

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I’m in Category B with 19 years of service on 1/1/18. Can I enroll in ret. insurance after 1/1/18?

If retiring on or after 1/1/18, you must work to age 60 and attain 20 years of service to be eligible for retiree insurance. Category B employees who work to age 60 and attain 20 years of service can enroll in the university’s retiree insurance plans, regardless of what date the employee reaches those two benchmarks.

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What services and tools does UnitedHealthcare provide?

UnitedHealthcare offers many tools to help make your medical insurance coverage work for you. The myUHC Cost Estimator can help you estimate your out-of-pocket health care costs prior to seeing a doctor. Additionally, the tool allows you to compare health cost estimates at different providers so you can be sure you’re making an informed decision about what is best for you.

The Health4Me app is another resource for accessing a wealth of healthcare information in seconds. The app lets you check your account balances and benefit amounts, stores your health plan ID card, collects and tracks your current Personal Health records, and helps you view, sort, and pay claims. Additionally, you can use the app much like you use the myUHC Cost Estimator when you compare costs of common procedures. You can even connect with healthcare professionals 24/7 as well as find in-network providers and hospitals nearby in case of emergency.

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Who is the university administrator for behavioral health?

Mental health coverage for active benefit-eligible employees and their dependents is offered through United Behavioral Healthcare’s (UBH) Live and Work Well program. Use the Live and Work Well program website to access benefits, manage claims, and get information on care and services. You can also search in-network clinicians to find your best provider.

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I’ve heard I can only retire at certain times of the year; is that true?

If you are in a 9-month appointment, you may retire on 3/1 or 9/1. All others can retire on any day of the year after meeting the eligibility requirements to be a retiree.

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Under the Affordable Care Act (PPACA), who’s required to track hours, and where do they track time?

Variable hour non‐exempt employees already track worked hours and will continue to do so.

Variable hour non‐teaching exempt employees (both staff and academics that are not fully benefit eligible) should record actual worked hours using a non‐pay time reporting code in the time reporting system. Instructions on how to record hours can be found at http://www.umsystem.edu/apps/is/ps-training/upgrade9.1/PlayerFiles_HourlyTR/toc0.html. Partial hours should be rounded to the nearest half hour (i.e., 15 minutes or over round up to the next half hour and under 15 minutes round down to the previous half hour).

Variable hour teaching academic appointments quantify time worked using an equivalency of 3 1/3 hours worked for each credit hour taught. This methodology is used to determine their full-time equivalent (FTE). No action is required on the part of the individual. The FTE is entered by the department. This methodology should be applied regardless of the time period of which the class is taught (i.e., 8 weeks versus 16 weeks).

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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If spouses work for UM, what if one retires while eligible for ret. insurance and the other doesn’t?

If a spouse loses his or her eligibility for a UM benefit(s), the retiree may add the spouse as a dependent for retiree insurance benefits. Please keep in mind, the newly covered spouse is eligible only for continued coverage under the same programs he or she was enrolled in as an eligible employee. Additionally, such a change must be made within 31 days after the change in status.

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Under PPACA, am I required to track hours for jobs worked outside of the university?

No, variable-hour employees do not have to track hours worked outside of the university.

The requirement is to track hours worked for the employer. Therefore, the university only has to track the hours that a variable hour employee works at the university. But if an employee works more than one job for the university, the UM System will track hours for all of those jobs.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Does the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) teaching equivalency apply to all types of courses?

Yes. This equivalency (3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught) will be used for classroom credit courses, online courses, and courses taught by Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs).

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What’s the penalty if the university doesn’t comply with Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requirements?

To comply with Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the UM System must offer medical coverage to at least 95% of employees that average 30 hours per week or more. Not meeting this requirement will incur a penalty based on all benefit-eligible employees, which could be as much as $39,000,000 for UM.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Will the PPACA teaching equivalency adjust based on the number of students enrolled in the course?

No. The teaching equivalency for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), 3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught, will remain the same regardless of the number of enrolled students.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Is vision insurance available for benefit-eligible faculty, staff, and retirees?

Yes. VSP Vision Care is the administrator for the University of Missouri System vision plan. Learn more about vision plans.

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What is COBRA?

COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. COBRA requires that a medical plan offer covered employees and dependents the opportunity to continue coverage when it ends for certain specified reasons. Learn more about eligibility for continued coverage.

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How much is the tobacco-free discount?

The tobacco-free discount is $50/month on medical insurance premiums.

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Do cross-listed credit courses affect the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) teaching equivalency?

No. The teaching equivalency is 3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught. Since the course is a single course, the individual would receive 3 1/3 hours worked for each course credit hour.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Who is eligible for the tobacco-free discount on medical insurance premiums?

Active, benefit-eligible faculty and staff who are enrolled in a University of Missouri medical insurance plan are eligible. In addition, the employee and all family members enrolled on their plan must be either tobacco free or in a cessation program.

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How will eligibility be confirmed for purposes of the tobacco-free discount program?

When enrolling in a University medical plan, you will be required to sign a Tobacco Attestation. In order to qualify for the Tobacco Discount, you must certify that you and all dependents covered by a University medical plan:

  • have been tobacco free at least three months prior to the effective date of coverage and will continue to be tobacco free for the plan year or
  • are enrolled in a tobacco cessation program. 

During Annual Enrollment each year, all faculty and staff will be required to submit a new Tobacco Attestation for the upcoming plan year, effective January 1. View the full Tobacco Attestation for more information.

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If I must go on a leave of absence, will I still retain my benefits?

Yes. During a leave of absence, you are eligible to continue to participate in the University of Missouri's staff benefit program (medical, dental, life, accidental death, and long-term disability).

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What is the definition of tobacco-free?

“Tobacco-free” means that the employee and all dependents covered by a university medical plan have been and will continue to be tobacco free starting at least three months prior the effective date of coverage and will not use tobacco products through December 31 of the plan year.

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What is the definition of tobacco?

Under this discount program, “tobacco” includes any form of tobacco products that are smoked (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, pipes), applied to the gums (e.g., dipping or chewing leaf tobacco), and/or inhaled (e.g., snuff or electronic cigarettes).

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Under the Affordable Care Act, how should FTE be calculated when a course is shared by professors?

To calculate the full-time equivalency (FTE) for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), follow the agreed upon methodology of 3 1/3 worked hours per each credit hour taught for the course, and prorate the worked hours among the multiple professors based on the distribution of teaching effort.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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Why are e-cigarettes included as part of the definition of tobacco?

We looked at similar programs offered by higher education institutions and elsewhere in the industry, and the inclusion of e-cigarettes is common. Secondly, due to lack of regulation, e-cigarette companies are not mandated to disclose product ingredients or health effects. Additional research is needed to determine what ingredients e-cigarettes contain and the health implications they have on users.

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I have a newborn; Can/should I complete the Tobacco Attestation with the Family Status Change form?

No, the Tobacco Attestation is not required to be completed for newborn children, and adding a newborn does not allow you to change your tobacco status.

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If I go on military leave, can I continue to receive my benefits?

Yes. If you are a fully benefit-eligible employee who has completed your probationary period, you can stay enrolled in some or all of the benefits in which you are already enrolled if you pay the amount that would normally have been deducted from you paycheck for you monthly premiums*.

*Note that the university's plans have a specific war exclusion. For details, see the appropriate plan’s Summary Plan Description (SPD) under the forms and guides section of the military leave: information on university benefits page.

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Under what conditions can I change my tobacco status mid-year to earn the discount?

There are two conditions that will allow you to change your tobacco status midyear:

  • Family Status Change – If you experience a family status change, or FSC, in which you remove tobacco using dependent(s) (child or spouse/sponsored adult dependent) and you and all other covered dependents are tobacco free, then you will qualify for the discount at that time. Your contributions would change to the discounted rate on the first of the month following the family status change if you submit the required paperwork within 31 days of the event.
  • Midyear Recertification – All faculty and staff who are currently in a non-discount status and become tobacco free or enroll in a tobacco cessation program before June 30 have the opportunity to qualify for the discounted rates from July 1 – December 31 of the plan year. Complete and submit the Midyear Attestation if you qualify.

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What is the teaching equivalency for courses taught on less than a 16-week standard semester?

The teaching equivalency for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), 3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught, remains the same: 1 credit hour taught equals 3 1/3 worked hours, regardless of the time period the class covers.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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If I am currently in a tobacco cessation program, when can I recertify again?

You must recertify with the Midyear Attestation by June 30 and again during Annual Enrollment each year.

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What if I choose to suspend coverage while I’m on military leave?

If you choose to suspend coverage while on leave, you must resume your coverage within 31 days of your return to benefit-eligible university employment. If you suspend coverage, coverage is also suspended for all your dependents. Upon your return to work, the coverage for your dependents may be resumed along with your own coverage.

If you choose to suspend coverage while on military leave, coverage is also suspended for your dependents. However, you may enroll your family in a separate military health plan for dependents if you are called to active duty for more than 30 days. Immediately contact the appropriate Armed Forces personnel for information related to these plans, or visit Tricare for more information.

When you do return to benefit-eligible university employment, coverage for your dependents may be resumed along with your own coverage.

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Can dependents on active duty be covered under university benefits?

Dependents (including spouses) on active duty are not eligible for the university's medical or dental insurance coverage.

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