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, some of the voluntary insurances (home/auto, ID protection, prepaid legal), 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 complete your new employee orientation and onboarding process, and decide on medical, dental, vision and whether to enroll in a flexible spending account. It is best to do this in advance of your start date so your benefits can begin at the earliest possible date (first of following month).
Also within 30 days of your eligibility date you should make decisions about additional life insurance, disability coverage and critical illness coverage. After your first 30 days, you may be required to provide evidence of insurability (i.e. pass a medical screening) to enroll in these plans, or may have to wait for an open enrollment period to be offered.
You’ll also select a investment sponsor, TIAA or Fidelity, in the University of Arkansas Retirement Plan.
Qualifying Life Events: 30 days
A qualifying life event allows you to add newly-eligible dependents to your benefits. If you pre-tax your insurance premiums, a qualifying event also may allow 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 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 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 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. Coverage takes effect the first of the following month, except newborns added within the first month are covered retroactively to birth.
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 in the fall. This applies to flexible spending accounts and pre-tax premium conversion.
Annual open enrollment for our self-insured medical and dental plans is not guaranteed. 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 — vision, life, disability, and critical illness insurance – determine when open enrollment will be offered for those plans. Generally open enrollment is held in the fall, but that is not guaranteed.
How to enroll
Only new hires and those newly eligible for benefits will complete the onboarding process and enroll in benefits online via the My Compass system. Current employees with qualifying life events will need to complete paper forms. Forms are available in our office on 4C of the Central Building, or by printing the forms found at Benefit Forms and sending to our office by fax or email.
Effective Date of Your Benefit Elections
Elective group benefits — the ones that you must take positive action in which to enroll — take effect the first of the following month after your completion of enrollment forms. This includes medical, dental, vision, flexible spending accounts, life, optional short and long term disability, accidental death and dismemberment and critical illness. 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 Short/Long Term Disability beginning on their 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.