Benefits open enrollment begins April 8

Rice’s open enrollment for benefits begins April 8, and benefits-eligible employees will have until April 26 to go online via Esther ( to make selections and changes.

BenefitsPlan coverage options for 2013-2014 will remain unchanged; however, premium rates for the plan year that begins July 1 are increasing between 2 and 6 percent, depending on the plan. For example, the HMO employee-only rate is increasing by $1 per paycheck; the POS employee-plus-spouse rate is increasing by $13.50 per paycheck; and the PPO employee-plus-family is increasing by $33.50 per paycheck.

“The cost increases for each plan are different because the average claims cost per plan are different,” said Elaine Britt, director of benefits and compensation in Human Resources. “The health premiums we pay for coverage each month are directly related to the health care spending by every employee and dependent who is covered by our plan. Our own medical claims expense is driving the cost up; since we’re in a group plan, all of us pay for the health care that we all use.”

The pharmacy benefit program will also remain unchanged; copays and coinsurance, the portion of the drug cost that employees are responsible for, will remain the same. For all plans, generic drugs cost $10; formulary brands cost $30; nonformulary brands cost $50; specialty medications cost 25 percent of their price, up to $75. A three-month supply of generics by mail order is $20; formulary brands are $60; and nonforumulary brands are $100.

“We’ve seen savings from more employees choosing generic prescription drugs rather than brand name drugs as well as using the mail order prescription program,” Britt said.

The dental plan options will also remain the same. The rates for the indemnity dental plan are decreasing by 2 percent; the DMO rates will be unchanged.

Life insurance rates will be decreasing, and Rice is changing to a new insurance company, Unum, for life and accidental death and disability coverage.

The medical spending account limit is again capped at $2,500 for 2013-2014.

All open enrollment information can be found online at Paper booklets with open enrollment information are available at Human Resources on the 26th floor of the Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza Building, Suite 2600, and will be available at RiceFest, which will be April 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Rice Memorial Center.

Employees who miss the April 26 deadline for open enrollment will automatically be re-enrolled in their current plan; however, renewing contributions to a flexible spending account is not automatic. Employees must re-enroll each year to set their medical spending and dependent-care spending account contribution, even if they are currently enrolled in the plan. The account is reset to zero each year unless employees actively re-enroll through Esther.

“There are no deadline extensions and no exceptions, so don’t procrastinate,” Britt said.

Employees who are not making any changes to their current medical plan do not have to do anything unless they want to contribute to a medical or dependent-care spending account.

Human Resources representatives will be at RiceFest to answer questions about open enrollment. Employees can also contact benefits representatives at or 713-348-2363.

About Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans is a senior editor in the Rice's Office of Public Affairs.