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Total Rewards frequently asked questions

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What is the vacation waiver, and why did I receive a communication about it?

If you received a vacation waiver comminucation, UM System records estimate you may be impacted by changes to retiree insurance eligibility, effective January 1, 2018. If you have the desire to retire before changes take effect, the waiver may provide peace of mind if unavoidable circumstances arise and push your official retirement date into 2018.

The waiver allows you to receive a lump sum payment for unused accrued vacation that, without the waiver, would be used after December 30, 2017.

Please note, any vacation accruals paid as a lump sum will not be included in creditable service or salary in your final pension calculation.

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My coworker/friend received information about the vacation waiver. Why didn’t I?

Employees who received the vacation waiver communication are estimated to meet the following criteria:

  • Already submitted a Notice of Intent to Retire form for 2017; OR
  • Are estimated to be in Access Category B or C as of December 31, 2017;
  • Are eligible to retire in 2017; and
  • Are in a vacation-accruing position.

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Can faculty with a 9-month position waive service credit and retire in December of 2017?

The waiver form is only available to employees in vacation accruing positions, and allows them the option to waive their right to associated service and salary credit in their pension calculation. This option is not available to 9-month faculty appointments.

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I submitted my NOI form but wish to change my retirement plan. Why does my dept. have to approve?

It is possible your department has already begun reviewing their budget and taking steps to make staffing changes as a result of your previously submitted retirement plan. It is at the discretion of your department if a change for an already submitted retirement plan is approved.

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I submitted my NOI form, but want to sign and return the waiver. Can I?

If you have already submitted your Notice of Intent to Retire (NOI) form and do not wish to change your retirement plan (last day worked, vacation usage or retirement date), you may send your signed waiver to the UM System Office of Human Resources, where your form will be kept on file in the event that unavoidable circumstances arise causing your vacation usage plan to change.

If you have already submitted your NOI form and now wish to consider changing your retirement plan (last day worked, vacation usage or retirement date), please contact your department to discuss your options. Your department must approve of any changes to your retirement plan if the NOI form has already been submitted.

NOTE: If you change your retirement plans within 60 days of your official retirement date, your first pension payment and retiree health insurance enrollment will likely be delayed.

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I want to meet with a Retirement Specialist to discuss the waiver. When can I get an appointment?

The typical wait time for an appointment with a Retirement Specialist is approximately one to two weeks. However, if you would like to contact the Retirement Programs team, your questions may be answered by phone or email. Please reach out to us via email at retirement@umsystem.edu or by phone at 573-882-9810 or toll-free 800-488-5288.

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I’m in Access Category A, but want to complete the waiver to receive my vacation as a lump sum.

The vacation waiver option is only available for employees who are impacted by the changes to retiree health insurance eligibility (for retirements beginning January 1, 2018). As an employee in Access Category A, you are not impacted by the changes. Therefore, it is not necessary to complete the waiver form.

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If I submit a waiver and retire in 2017, when will I receive a lump sum payment for vacation?

The lump sum payment for vacation that would have extended into 2018 will be processed in January 2018, on your final active pay cycle (biweekly – 1/24/18, monthly – 1/31/18) to allow for final accrual review and confirmation. If you have questions regarding taxes on your lump sum distribution, please work with your tax advisor.

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If I submit the vacation waiver and retire in 2017, what happens to my unused sick leave?

While sick leave is not paid out upon retirement, you will receive service credit for all unused sick leave. There is no maximum amount of sick leave one can accrue. 

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Is there a deadline to return the signed waiver?

No. However, please be aware that if your retirement plans change within 60 days of your official retirement date, your first pension payment and retiree health insurance enrollment will likely be delayed.

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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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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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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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I scheduled an appointment through Capital Region. Will my appointment still be honored?

Yes. Capital Region will complete appointments with current patients at the same location and during the same hours as it has been. You can access more information on the location and hours webpage.  

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I met with Capital Region, but now want to schedule with our in-house EAP team. Can I?

Yes. When scheduling your appointment through Capital Region, let your representative know you’d like to receive services with our in-house EAP team. Capital Region will work to quickly transition new and existing patients to our EAP professionals as requested by the patient.

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I recently met with a provider from Capital Region. Can I schedule with this provider again?

Capital Region will take calls and schedule appointments through the end of October. You can schedule an appointment with a Capital Region provider until that time. Our in-house EAP team and Capital Region will then work to transition patients interested in receiving continued services.  

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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 and dental. 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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I want to meet with an in-house EAP provider, but I can only find Capital Region contact info.

Clients will continue to call Capital Region to schedule all appointments through October 31, whether they choose to receive services from our in-house EAP team or through Capital Region. Simply indicate your interest in scheduling an appointment with the University’s EAP professionals when you call Capital Region. You can find Capital Region contact information on the location and hours webpage.

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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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Are employees required to use vacation or leave when meeting with an EAP practitioner?

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a benefit provided to all employees at no cost. Employees are not required to utilize any of their leave when meeting with a practitioner in the EAP. Visit the Employee Assistance Program webpage for more information.

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What HR policies have changed as a result of the PPACA?

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What Is Step Therapy through Express Scripts?

Step therapy is a program for people who take prescription drugs regularly to treat a medical condition, such as arthritis, asthma or high blood pressure. It allows you and your family to receive the affordable treatment you need and helps your organization continue with prescription-drug coverage.

In step therapy, drugs are grouped in categories, based on treatment and cost:

Front-line drugs — the first step — are generic and sometimes lower-cost brand drugs proven to be safe, effective and affordable. In most cases, you should try these drugs first because they usually provide the same health benefit as a more expensive drug, at a lower cost.
Back-up drugs — Step 2 and step 3 drugs — are brand-name drugs that generally are necessary for only a small number of patients. Back-up drugs are the most expensive option.

If you have more questions, you can go to StepTherapyFacts.com to watch informative videos or call the Express Scripts Pharmacy at the number on your ID card. (This FAQ answer provided by ExpressScripts.)

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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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