Human Resources

FAQ's - Open Enrollment

Q. What if I miss the Open Enrollment period and need to enroll or make changes to my benefits?
A. If you did not complete your 2017 Open Enrollment elections by completing the online enrollment for before the deadline (11/15/2016), you have missed your opportunity to enroll in benefits for 2017.  Federal law limits your ability to change most of your elections outside of Open Enrollment unless you experience a 'Qualified Life Event' (such as a birth or marriage) and, if you do, you must notify BenefitsQA@whoi.edu and submit any required supporting documentation within 31 days of the event.  If you've missed the Open Enrollment deadline and have a concern, contact the WHOI Benefits team.  

Q. It seems too good to be true! Why wouldn't someone enroll in the Blue Care Elect Deductible plan?
A. There is no catch.  Because of the lower premium cost, greater WHOI cost share, and availability of the HRA (which equates to up to 50% of the annual deductible), it is an attractive option for many employees.  The Blue Care Elect Deductible is still a choice for employees and should be considered carefully before enrolling.  Typically, a high deductible health plan is not desirable to those who are not comfortable with taking the upfront risk for paying out-of-pocket expenses, which can create a cash flow issue for some.

Q. What is considered in-network under the WHOI Medical plans?
A. Any provider or hospital in the PPO Preferred Network which includes over 90% of all providers and hospitals in the United States.  There are even some participating providers outside the U.S. in places like Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.  All employees considering enrollment in one of the WHOI Medical plans encouraged to check if their current providers are in the PPO network.  To verify if your healthcare providers are in the PPO Preferred network or to find a PPO provider or hospital (use "XXP" for the 3-digit ID number), visit the BCBSMA Provider Finder website at http://www.bcbs.com/healthtravel/finder.html.

Q. I have a child that attends college out-of-state, how will the WHOI Medical plans benefit me?
A.  
The WHOI Medical plans might still be a good option for college students residing out of state.  Under these plans, there is a very large provider network, which means there is a good chance you should be able to find an in-network doctor and/or hospital in the geographic area  of your child‘s school.  Do some research and check to see if providers and hospitals near your child’s school are in the BCBS PPO Preferred Network.  Remember that, under our plans, your child can seek urgent or emergency care anywhere. 

Q. My child is no longer a full time student.  How long can my child be covered under my WHOI Medical plan?
A.
 Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) children are eligible to be covered as dependents up until age 26.  Under the WHOI Medical plans, eligible dependent children can be covered to the end of the month in which they turn age 26.  However, the IRS definition of a qualified dependent who may be covered under an employer’s Health Savings Account (HSA) is different. This means, for instance, that an employee whose 24 year old child is covered on the Blue Care Elect Saver (with HSA) plan may not be eligible to use HSA funds to pay that child’s medical bills (unless the child qualifies as a federal tax dependent).  Further, imputed income does not apply for covered dependents (unless dependents of a domestic partner).

Q. What is better an HRA or an HSA?
A.
  
It's a trick question. There is no clear answer. It's like asking, "What's a better vehicle - a pick-up truck or a compact sedan?" The answer in both cases depends on your current and projected needs, your budget and your preferences.  While we cannot help you decide, you may find the information below helpful in making your decision. 

Defining the Terms 
A Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is an employer-funded account that reimburses a portion of your out-of-pocket medical expenses. WHOI contributes to the HRA when you enroll in the Blue Care Elect Deductible plan.  The amount that WHOI contributes is determined by your enrollment level in the Blue Care Elect Deductible plan.  The HRA pays the first dollars of expenses.  HRAs are subject to the continuation of coverage rules under COBRA. 
 
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a personal financial account that eligible employees establish, often with the help of their employer. WHOI contributes biweekly to the HSA when you enroll in the Blue Care Elect Saver plan.  The amount that WHO contributes is determined by your enrollment level in the Blue Care Elect Saver plan.  You can also reduce your taxable income with your own pre-tax contributions to the account. An HSA isn't subject to COBRA continuation rules (though Blue Care Elect Saver usually is).  Employees manage all HSA distributions and report their activity on their personal income tax returns. 
 
Q. Where can I find information related to Traveling Abroad?
A. Each one of the WHOI medical plans provides emergency service while you are traveling abroad.  For more specific information, please click here.

Last updated: February 13, 2017