How & When to Enroll
Generally, there are three times when you can enroll in or make changes to your benefits:
1. as a newly hired or newly benefits-eligible employee,
2. during an open enrollment period, or
3. based on changes to your family or employment circumstances, referred to as “qualifying life event.”
Please note below the different deadlines.
Some of your benefit plans can be changed at any time. These include changing how much you contribute to the UA retirement plan (UARP), your home/auto insurance coverage, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance coverage.
Newly Eligible: 30 days
The first opportunity to enroll in benefits is during your first 30 days as a new employee. This also applies to current employees who change status and become newly eligible for benefits – such as increasing percent of time worked to 50% or higher, or transferring from temporary to regular status. During this 30-day time period you must attend New Employee Orientation and decide on medical, dental, vision and whether to enroll in a flexible spending account.
You’ll also select a retirement plan. This is mandatory because UAMS is required to make contributions. You’ll need to designate a plan so we know where to send the money.
Also within 30 days of your eligibility date you should make decisions about additional life insurance and long term disability coverage. After your first 30 days, you must provide evidence of insurability (i.e. pass a medical screening) to enroll in these plans.
You have 60 days to enroll in long term care insurance or critical illness insurance without providing evidence of insurability.
Qualifying Life Events: 30 days
A qualifying life event allows you to add newly-eligible dependents to your benefits. If you pre-tax your medical and dental premiums, a qualifying event also allows you to drop or reduce coverage mid-year. You must act within 30 days of the qualifying event for the change to be accepted. Any change must be consistent with the qualifying event (for example, adding a dependent to medical following birth of a child). Qualifying events include such things as:
Divorce or legal separation
Birth of a baby or adoption
Death of a covered dependent
Loss or gain of eligibility for insurance coverage by you or a covered dependent
Change in your or your spouse’s employment status (loss of job, unpaid leave of absence, reduction in time worked)
See the full list of life events and a Life Events/Benefits Matrix for more detailed information, including checklists. If you’re not sure if your situation is a qualifying event or what paperwork is needed, contact our office.
If you experience a qualifying event, you have 30 days of the event to complete a benefit change request and other relevant vendor enrollment forms, and to provide documentation to our office. Examples of documentation include marriage license, divorce decree, or letter from your spouse’s employer verifying that benefits will end on a specific date.
Open Enrollment: as announced
All employees who are eligible for benefits will have the opportunity to enroll in or make changes to their flex plans during the annual open enrollment held at the end of each year, usually mid-November to mid-December. This applies to flexible spending accounts and pre-tax premium conversion.
We do not not always have annual open enrollment for our self-insured medical and dental plans. The University of Arkansas System Office determines when an open enrollment is held for those plans. Eligible employees will be notified in advance of any upcoming open enrollment periods.
The vendors of our fully insured plans, such as vision, life and critical illness insurance, determine when open enrollment will be offered for those plans.
How to enroll
If you are newly eligible for benefits, you will attend a New Employee Orientation session (scheduled by your supervisor). All benefit plans will be covered in detail so that you can make informed decisions about your benefits. You’ll complete enrollment paperwork at this session.
Effective Date of Your Benefit Elections
Elective group benefits — the ones that you must enroll in through our office — take effect the first of the following month. This includes medical, dental, vision, flexible spending accounts, life, long term disability and accidental death and dismemberment. Therefore, it is to your advantage to enroll in benefits as soon as you are eligible. For example, if your first day is June 14, you have until July 14 to enroll. If you enroll in June, coverage takes effect July 1. But if you wait until July to enroll, the start of coverage is delayed until August 1.
Eligible employees are automatically covered in Basic Life and Basic Long Term Disability beginning on the first day. No enrollment is required, although you will need to designate a beneficiary for your life insurance.
Benefit plan information on these web pages is in a summary format and is not intended to replace actual plan documents. UAMS reserves the right to amend or terminate all or any part of any benefit plan.