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Minutes of Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC): September 22, 2011

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

Other BAC members not in attendance: Steven Roof

I. Review and Follow Up

The group was given the opportunity to review minutes and ask follow-up questions from August 25, 2011 BAC meeting. An anonymous letter received after the August meeting minutes were posted was discussed by the group. The group discussed the importance of articulating that the change in College contribution towards individual, two-person and family health insurance is equitable in the Valley.  Also, it was suggested that the contribution rates for 2012 should be framed in a percentage in addition to a dollar amount so that the College and employee percentage contribution rates are clear. 

Amy Diehl reported that the minutes from the August 25, 2011 BAC meeting had been viewed 123 unique times and viewers stayed on the page for five and a half minutes.

Shelly Ruocco gave an update on the Flexible Work Arrangements policy she has drafted and had presented to the BAC at our last meeting. She has also presented this flextime policy to the SAC, Working Moms group, a few supervisors and the Monday Group. There are also sessions being scheduled to review this flextime policy with supervisors for additional feedback.  Hampshire College will be the first school in the Valley to put an official Flextime policy in place.   [Update: Supervisory Feedback sessions are: Wednesday, October 19, 2:30 - 4 p.m. and Thursday, October 22, 2 - 3:30 p.m.]

II. Life Insurance

The BAC continued the discussion of life insurance plan design changes that were proposed at the August 25, 2011, BAC meeting, changing the multiple of salary based on age to a fixed multiple of salary for all employees regardless of age.  David Hoffmann provided data on changing the multiple to 2.0 times salary for all employees.  There is a lower premium for the College if the life insurance benefit I changed to 1.5 times salary, but there are more employees who win or break even in terms of the benefit coverage level at 2.0 times salary.  Going beyond 2.0 times salary would cost the College additional money which is not an option.  The change to 1.5 or 2.0 would be more generous than any other Valley school.  The design change is ultimately making the benefit more equitable for all benefits-eligible employees. 

The BAC recommends to Shelly change the life insurance benefit to a fixed 2.0 times salary for all benefits-eligible employees up to a maximum of $150,000 starting January 1, 2012.

III. Health Insurance

David Hoffmann presented more information on the low cost option HMO plan that will be introduced during open enrollment for a January 1, 2012 effective date.  The actual rates that Tufts agreed for this plan are 8% below the status quo HMO plan renewal rates for the 2012 calendar year, which is better than anticipated. 

David presented a listing of services that are subject to the deductible under this new low cost option HMO.  SBA will create a plan selection tool to be used by employees during open enrollment to evaluate whether the new low cost HMO is the right choice for them.  This plan may not be the right choice for employees who do not have cash on hand but will need services that require upfront payment of the deductible. 

It will be important during the presentation of the details of this plan that employees understand that the pharmacy deductible is stand alone, which is the same as with the current HMO and PPO plans.  It will also be important to point out during information sessions that the Tufts mail order prescription program, CVS Caremark, is available with all three health insurance plans and should be used for maintenance medication for those seeking significant cost savings.  Through Caremark members get a 90 day supply of medication for the cost of a 30 day supply.   

IV. Benefit Communication Strategy

There are a number of important changes to benefits beginning January 1, 2012 as well as other benefits that it would be good to remind employees about.  Through the effort of Human Resources as well as the BAC, employees will hear and learn about these benefits in a number of ways so that all benefits-eligible employees are informed and can make educated decisions during open enrollment (November 1, 2011 through December 2, 2011) about their benefits for the  2012 calendar year. 

There will benefit three benefits information sessions:

Wednesday, October 19, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., Main Lecture Hall

Thursday, October 27, 11:00 a.m. - noon, West Lecture Hall

Thursday, October 27, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., West Lecture Hall

The annual Benefits Fair will take place on Tuesday, November 8, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., in the Red Barn.  There will be directed emails sent to benefits-eligible employees, Human Resources will visit faculty school meetings during the months of October and November and the Human Resources office will present at the monthly Staff Meeting on October 25 in West Lecture Hall. 

V. Faculty FMLA

It was pointed out that faculty are aware that the Faculty FMLA proposal is being discussed by the BAC at this point in time.  The BAC discussed the importance of expanding the proposal to include family leaves as is covered under the federal mandate.  The current practices of faculty and staff FMLA leave were discussed.  The BAC recognizes that the FMLA policy for staff and faculty should mirror each other; however there may be some differences due to the nature of the faculty teaching schedule.  

It was decided that a smaller working group including Lise Sanders, Yaniris Fernandez and Shelly Ruocco would meet to prepare a draft for the next BAC meeting.  Lise will also give an update at a future faculty meeting and the BAC hopes to have an FMLA proposal ready to present to the faculty in December 2011.

The last topic on the agenda 24 v. 26 benefit deductions for biweekly payroll was not covered at all at this meeting, but all members left with material to read in order to discuss at the October meeting.   

The BAC will meet again on Thursday, October 27, 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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