Open enrollment for benefit plans available through April 24

Rice’s annual open enrollment period for health and welfare benefits is April 6-24, and there are a few changes in this year’s offerings.

All benefits except medical plans and the dental PPO will remain at the same rates as 2019-20; medical plan rates are going up by an average of 3.6%, while the dental PPO will cost 2.1% less. Detailed information regarding plan changes and rates is available by visiting and clicking the “Annual Enrollment 2020-2021” button.

Among the changes in 2020-21 (new premiums and plans go into effect July 1):

• Coinsurance for brand-name drugs is being introduced. Patients will pay 30% of the price of formulary brand-name drugs with the minimum out-of-pocket cost set at $40 and the maximum at $80. For nonformulary brand-name drugs, patients will pay 40% of the price with the minimum set at $70 and the maximum at $140. Generic drugs will be covered with a $10 copay.

• Deductibles are being introduced to the HMO option. The levels are $150 for an individual and $300 for a family, applying to services other than office visits.

• Coinsurance is being introduced to the POS option. For services other than office visits, after the deductible is met, the employee will pay 10% of the cost of services up to the out-of-pocket maximum.

The enrollment portal, powered by Benefitfocus, contains helpful tools such as a cost calculator to help employees determine which plans are best for them. Employees will be able to access reports on their enrollment status, dependents and coverage levels, and the portal serves as the repository for documents such as dependent eligibility verifications and life event documentation.

To access the portal:

  1. Visit
  2. Select the “Enroll in Benefits” icon located on the far right to access the enrollment portal.
  3. After logging in using your Rice NetID and password, you will be directed to the benefits portal.
  4. Click on the “Enroll Now” icon on the far right.
  5. Enroll in or edit your medical coverage, add dependents as needed and make your election for or decline the medical flexible spending account by clicking on “Get started” on the upper right.
  6. Follow through for all benefits that are offered to you. For each benefit that is not fully employer funded, you may decline if you do not wish to enroll. If you are currently enrolled in an option, you can access it by selecting edit coverage. Before you can continue your elections, you will be required to view options that must be elected every year, as well as new benefits and the beneficiary designation section.
  7. Once all sections have been completed and you have submitted them, you will receive a confirmation number stating you have completed your enrollment.

Employees who do not make changes to their benefits will be automatically re-enrolled in their current plans. However, renewing contributions to a flexible spending or a health savings account is not automatic. Employees must re-enroll each year to set their medical, dependent-care and health savings account contributions.

Employees can also access the portal on a mobile device by downloading the Benefitfocus mobile app from Google Play or the Apple Store (enter company code “Rice” when prompted).

All changes or new elections must be made by April 24.

For assistance with navigating the portal, understanding health and welfare benefits or making changes due to a qualifying life event, employees can contact the Rice Benefits Service Center from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 713-348-2363 or visit If questions remain, email

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, all communications about annual enrollment will be provided electronically or telephonically. In addition, Zoom meetings will be held to discuss benefits as follows (a password and instructions were emailed to Rice community members April 6):


Medical plan options for the 2020-21 fiscal year are as follows:

Accountable Care Organization (ACO)

This is a plan with a specific network of doctors and hospitals affiliated with Memorial Hermann, with a primary care physician, or PCP, guiding each patient’s care with assistance from a specified team of professionals dedicated to that patient’s overall care.

Memorial Hermann ACO
Employee only $87
Employee plus spouse/partner $334
Employee plus child(ren) $291
Employee plus family $566


Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

In this plan, an employee selects a PCP who serves as a “gatekeeper” for all medical services. Under this plan, patients must consult with their PCP before receiving services from most specialist physicians and other service providers, who are all within the HMO network.

Aetna HMO
Employee only $105
Employee plus spouse/partner $393
Employee plus child(ren) $343
Employee plus family $667


Point-of-Service (POS II)

With this plan, patients pay a set amount for in-network care. However, this plan does not require a patient to get a referral from a PCP before seeing a specialist and has an out-of-network option.

Aetna Choice POS II
Employee only $176
Employee plus spouse/partner $627
Employee plus child(ren) $551
Employee plus family $1,060


Consumer-Driven Health Plan (CDHP)

This plan has a higher deductible and coinsurance rather than copayments for medical services. Participants pay the full cost for services and prescriptions up to the deductible and then the plan kicks in, paying coinsurance (except for pharmacy expenses, which have copays) for medical services until the out-of-pocket maximum is met. This plan allows for the benefits of a health savings account because it is a qualifying high-deductible health plan. Employees can get the triple tax benefit of pre-tax deductions, tax-free growth and tax-free use of the savings for qualified medical, dental and vision expenses.

High Deductible Health Plan
Employee only $132
Employee plus spouse/partner $404
Employee plus child(ren) $389
Employee plus family $690



Rice offers a vision plan option available to all employees even if they are not enrolled in the medical plan. The vision plan, administered by Aetna, features the Aetna Vision Preferred networks of providers. To locate a provider, call 1-855-679-3815 or visit

Aetna Preferred Vision Plan
Employee only $4.87
Employee plus spouse/partner $9.25
Employee plus child(ren) $9.73
Employee plus family $14.31



Rice will offer two dental plan options, both administered by Aetna: the PPO and the DHMO.

In the PPO plan, participants may use any dentist of their choosing and the plan pays a percentage of the services. The monthly premium will be $48 for an employee only, $98 for an employee plus spouse, $102 for an employee plus children and $140 for family coverage. The DHMO requires participants to select a dentist from a list of providers and covers frequently performed procedures either in full or a specified copay, will cost $13.68 for an employee only, $24.64 for an employee plus spouse, $25.67 for an employee plus children and $35.42 for family coverage.

As in previous years, employees earning less than $40,000 annualized salary per year may be eligible for a 50% premium subsidy.

Flexible spending accounts (FSA)

Flexible medical spending accounts, or FSAs, allow participants to set aside pretax dollars to pay for eligible out-of-pocket medical and dependent-care expenses. FSAs are “use it or lose it” accounts; any money left in the account at the end of the grace period is forfeited. FSA elections made for the 2019-20 plan year must be used by Sept. 15 and filed for by Nov. 30 or the money will be forfeited. Medical FSAs can stand alone or accompany the ACO, HMO and POS plans only. Under FSA’s, you should keep your receipts because you may be required to submit them to verify they are eligible charges.

You must re-elect any FSA amounts each year even if you make no other changes. The amount will not roll over from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020. The medical limit for medical flexible account will be $2,750 and dependent care will remain at $5,000 for families filing jointly.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a senior editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.