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Total Rewards frequently asked questions

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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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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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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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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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What are the current retiree insurance plans?

UM medical insurance options are different for retirees who are enrolled in Medicare versus those who are not eligible or not enrolled. The following plans are available for 2017.

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 can I find out if my doctor or other provider is a member of the UHC Group PPO Network?

To find out if your provider participates in the UHC Group PPO Network, you can ask your provider if they are a UHC Medicare Advantage Provider, or you can also call UHC’s university-dedicated toll-free number at 1-866-899-5903, TTY 711, from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. in your local U.S. time zone, seven days a week.

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What happens if I am traveling overseas and need care?

The university-sponsored UHC Group Medicare Advantage plans include worldwide coverage for emergency or urgently needed services, when medical services are needed right away because of an illness, injury, or condition that you did not expect or anticipate, and you can’t wait until you are back in the United States to address it. If you incur expenses for emergent or urgently needed care while traveling outside of the United States, you will have to personally submit your claims to UHC for reimbursement.

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