Monday, November 14, 2011

Garnett-Powers info sessions: November 8th and 9th 2011

Members of the Steering Committee attended all five Garnett-Powers info sessions on November 8th and 9th. The slides presented in the sessions are found here Open Enrollment PowerPoint

For those of you that could not make it to the info session, here are some things to know:
1. If you do not want to make any changes in your enrollment choices, you do not need to do anything. If you want to cancel something or add dependents, this is the time. Even if you think you do not want to change anything we strongly suggest you continue reading to find out if there are benefits you could add or modify to better suit your needs.
2. All of the below comments on benefits apply to both postdoctoral scholars and fellows. Scholars have until November 24th to make changes that will take effect on January 1st 2012.
3. However, fellows have open enrollment whenever their funding starts in the calendar year and yearly after that (not necessarily in November). As a fellow you should be receiving a salary supplement to cover your healthcare but this might not cover it fully if you have a family. Talk to your departmental administrator if you are unsure of when you open enrollment is or for more info on the supplement and healthcare costs. For a list of administrators email
4. The Summary Plan Description (SPD) has all the details of a plan including what is covered. You can also call Garnett-Powers and Associates at 1-800-261-7109
5. Retirement is NOT part of Garnett-Powers and associates and you can change your benefits twice per year at any time.
6. Garnett-Powers will give you 60 days to sign up for COBRA after your termination date, which is the last day of the month your appointment ends.
7. Open enrollment instructions
8. We hope that this blog is helpful. We have made every effort to ensure that the information here is accurate. Please do confirm important details with your departmental administrator or Garnett-Powers. Feel free to comment, suggest improvements or post questions by leaving comments in the blog or by emailing

Here are more details on each type of benefit (Life, Vision, Dental and Health):

All full-times postdocs get $12,000 coverage (remember to put in your beneficiary name on-line). More info here. You get additional $12,000 if accident. J1 status is included and you can purchase more coverage. More info here. 


•HMO – One exam every 12 months ($0 copay)
• PPO – One exam every 24 months ($15 copay)

Low Dental plan better if you plan to stay in network, lower fees.
High Dental Plan probably only better if you plan to use an out-of network dentist.
Link to provider network

1)Rate decrease! 2012 rates found here Rates

2) To contact Garnett-Powers you can call 1-800-261-7109 (they will return your call within 24 hours). However, they prefer you email them with concerns and questions at They will also respond to emails in 24 hours.

3) Healthcare reform makes routine physical exams free! Exceptions include a disease is diagnosed at that visit and possibly, for PPO members the University of Chicago outpatient fee (see PPO below).

4) Differences between HMO vs. PPO options.
All around cheaper option. Both in monthly dues and in co-pay amounts.
Requires you to have a Primary Care Provider (PCP) and for the PCP to give you referrals to any specialists. You can change your PCP once a month. You cannot go to the University of Chicago Hospital since no doctors are covered there! Also, if you are traveling, this could be a problem. In-network is only Chicago based doctors. You are always covered while traveling if it is an emergency. For out-of-state non-emergency coverage you can get a BlueCard Urgent Care card. However, if you travel a lot a PPO might be more convenient.

1) No need for referral, lots of freedom, can see any doctor including those at the University of Chicago (lots of in-network doctors all over the US).
2) Keep up with claims and expenses on-line using Blue Access. Also allows you to print temporary ID card.
3) Did you know you have access to a 24/7 Nurseline for answers to health-related questions 1-800-299-0274. Another great wellness program is “Special Beginnings” for expectant parents which offers an online resource center. Discounts to fitness centers in the Blue Care Connection Fitness Program. For more information go to the Blue Cross Blue Shield website or contact Garnett-Powers.
4) You can use things like Urgent Care facilities (for example when you are traveling, less wait than the ER and often cheaper). Also look into seeing a nurse at drugstore clinics (Walgreens, CVS) for less urgent matters.

1) More expensive monthly payments and in addition to co-pays have to pay 20% of most procedures.
2) University of Chicago physicians charge an outpatient clinic fee (can be several hundred dollars but you will never pay more than your deductible, $250). You may be charged for both a co-pay and outpatient fees. After fulfilling the $250 deductible, the only fees that you have to pay when you see a doctor that calendar year are the $15 co-pay (prescriptions not included). If you have a family, it is still only $250 total per person, $500 whole family. So, if you plan on seeing the doctor more than once (recurring illness, several family members, pregnancy) and you want the convenience of UofC physicians, it is probably worth it. If you plan to see a doctor only once (f.ex. a routine check-up) then you might be better off going elsewhere for your services. I have been informed by a postdoc that Northwestern does not have similar charges.

Look up what doctors are in-network here