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Minutes of Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC): October 27, 2011

Attending: Lise Sanders, Steven Roof, Amy Diehl, Heather St. Germaine, Yaniris Fernandez, Jerry Bohdanowicz, Shelly Ruocco, Hilary Clark, David Hoffmann (Strategic Benefit Advisors (SBA))

I. Review and Follow Up

The group was given the opportunity to review minutes and ask follow-up questions from the September 22, 2011 BAC meeting. After two information sessions regarding health and welfare benefit changes for 2012, there has been no feedback regarding life insurance and overall positive feedback on the new health insurance offering. 

II. Faculty FMLA

A subcommittee of the BAC made up of Shelly Ruocco, Yaniris Fernandez, and Lise Sanders continued to look at the Faculty FMLA policy. The following four questions were discussed at their initial meeting:

Where should the policy be housed? 

The policy should live in the Faculty Handbook using the same language in the Policy Manual for the FMLA basic overview.

To whom should the policy apply?

The policy would apply to faculty including visiting faculty and instructional staff who have met the FMLA eligibility requirements: employed at the College for at least one year, for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. The policy would not apply to adjunct faculty nor would it apply to staff-faculty associates. Administration of FMLA for Five College appointed faculty would be handled by the faculty member's home institution.

Would the policy be limited to parental leave?

No, the policy will be applied to medical leaves as defined by FMLA.

What elements are being considered under the policy?

Course release, team teaching, and reduction of divisional committee and governance responsibilities are options being considered, along with policy differences if one or both parent is employed at Hampshire.

The subcommittee will meet again in November and discuss the following items: how will the Faculty FMLA policy deal with adoption, will the leave time stop the sabbatical clock similar to a full semester off for leave of absence, military leave FMLA and length of time for leaves as FMLA provides 12 weeks of job protected leave.

III. Tuition Grant

In January 2009 Tuition Exchange Programs (CIC-TEP and TEP) were added to the tuition policies available to Hampshire employees. At that time the eligibility requirements of the existing Tuition Remission and Tuition Grant policies were changed to match the 1.0 FTE requirement outlined in the Tuition Exchange Programs guidelines. It is not possible to modify the Tuition Exchange policies eligibility requirement of 1.0 FTE as those are set by the bodies that administer the exchanges. 

The decision was made to make the eligibility requirements of all four tuition policies uniform at 1.0 FTE and one year of continuous service in a benefits-eligible position. This was a change to the Tuition Remission and Tuition Grant policies that prior to January 2009 had applied to employees who were at or above a 0.5 FTE.

In November 2010 the Tuition Remission policy was revised to extend to employees who were at or above a 0.5 FTE. At the time the financial impact of changing the Tuition Grant policy was also analyzed and it was determined that it was not financially possible to change the eligibility requirement to at or above a 0.5 FTE due to budget restrictions. 

There have been requests to analyze the financial possibility to revise the Tuition Grant policy's eligibility requirement to match the Tuition Remission policy at this point in time.

Shelly did not have specific Tuition Grant figures for review at the BAC meeting, but can pull them together for the November BAC meeting.

Without seeing the numbers, the BAC discussed changing the Tuition Grant policy to match the Tuition Remission in terms of eligibility requirements for employees.

IV. 2012 Changes Additional Information

a. Low Cost HMO

Dave clarified the deductible limit for the employee plus one and family plans on the new low cost HMO plan.  The deductible is $1000 for these two tiers, but there is a $500 cap per member, so no one member can be charged more than $500 for the services subject to the deductible in the plan year. (This is different from the deductible for the prescription portion of the insurance (same for all plans) where there is no per-member cap; the deductible is $200 for the employee plus one and family plans and one member may reach that $200 deductible on their own.)

It is likely that 10-20% of members will enroll in the low cost HMO.  As in past years we suspect that in future years that  in future years Tufts will provide the College with a composite increase, so all three plans will increase at the same percentage rate. 

b. Medical Plan Selection Tool

The medical plan selection tool is up on the Open Enrollment website. The goal is to have employees use the calculator and attend the benefits fair to discuss their options with the Tufts representative. It is difficult to build a scenario where the low-cost HMO plan is more expensive than the regular HMO plan for the year between premium payments and deductible. 

c. Life Insurance

Some of the questions around life insurance have been around what happens if an employee leaves Hampshire. The supplemental life insurance policy can be converted to an individual policy, but should Hampshire terminate coverage with Lincoln to move to another life insurance provider, the rate for a supplemental life insurance policy for an employee who has terminated will increase significantly. 

The guarantee issue amount (the amount you may be insured up to without medical underwriting ($100,000 for employee; $30,000 for spouse/partner)) for the supplemental life insurance plan goes away after the Open Enrollment period ends, December 2, 2011. 

Spouse/partner and child supplemental life insurance can only be purchased in conjunction with a supplemental life insurance policy for the employee.

V. Benefit Communication Strategy

The Open Enrollment letter will go out this year via email. Paper copies will be sent to the Facilities and Grounds department employees as well as faculty on sabbatical and leave of absence. Open Enrollment will run from November 1 - December 2, 2011. The Open Enrollment letter will include important notices that are required to be distributed to employees.

Human Resources will hold Open Enrollment help sessions on-campus to answer benefit questions and accept forms. 

·         Wednesday, 11/16, Faculty/Staff Lounge from 10:45 a.m.-Noon

·         Tuesday, 11/29, Faculty/Staff Lounge from Noon-1 p.m.

·         Wednesday, 11/30, Faculty/Staff Lounge from Noon-1 p.m.

·         Thursday, 12/1, Cole Science room 121 from Noon-1 p.m.

Information sessions regarding health and welfare benefit changes for 2012 have been held in October and November.  Human resources should use SAC and dean of faculty's office to help spread the word about Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment information is available on the Open Enrollment website,

VI. Employee Interest Survey

In 2012 the BAC would like to conduct an employee interest survey. The survey would be online using a web tool such as It is up to the committee to pick an area of focus for the survey, ideas include wellness and value of current benefits. It will be important for the committee to set a goal as employees who participate in the survey will expect action.  Survey topics and goals will be discussed at the next meeting.

VII. Upcoming Meetings

Steven Roof will be teaching at 10:30 in spring 2012.

The BAC will meet again on Thursday, November 17, 2011, from 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.  Please send all comments about these minutes to and your comments will be shared with the committee.

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