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2019 endowed benefits open enrollment has begun

Benefits open enrollment for endowed faculty and staff began Thursday, Nov. 1, and will end at 4 p.m., EST, Monday, Nov. 19, for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Contract college staff and faculty can make health plan changes and enroll in a flexible spending account (FSA) during a separate Option Transfer Period in November, dates to be determined.

The annual open enrollment period is the only time endowed employees can enroll in or make changes to health and dental plan coverage (including adding or removing dependents) unless they experience a qualifying life event. It’s also the only time of year to enroll or re-enroll in an FSA for medical or dependent care. Legal insurance is also part of open enrollment but runs Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

What’s new this year?

Endowed health plans: Similar to 2018, only minimal changes have been made to endowed health plan coverage and rates for 2019.

“There will be a slight change in the prescription formulary for 2019, as we see each year when prescriptions lose their patent status and new drugs come to market. In addition, while the nation’s costs for healthcare have increased in the range of 7 to 9 percent, Cornell healthcare premiums will rise only approximately 4 percent,” said Gordon Barger, senior director of benefits.

“We’ve experienced a good year with fewer high-cost claims, and we’re pleased to continue the Cornell subsidy of 90 percent of individual coverage and 75 percent of family coverage. We do need to adjust for the 4 percent increase in medical costs though, and we will share some of that increase with staff,” he said.

For example, members of the Cornell Program for Healthy Living plan will see an increase of about $2 a month for an individual; family premiums will increase less than $17 a month. There will be no increases to copays or deductibles in 2019. See the 2019 Rate Chart and 2019 Plan Comparison Chart on the endowed open enrollment website for complete details.

Endowed dental plans: There are no changes to the copays or deductibles. Occlusal guards are now covered under the endowed dental plans. In addition, the 2019 contributions will reflect a decrease of 12 percent over the 2018 rates. “Dental care is so important, and we’re pleased to have a slightly better plan and a much better cost for our staff,” Barger said. “A decrease in cost is rare, but it’s warranted for this year.”

Savings Accounts: Maximum contribution limits for FSAs for dependent care are the same as last year, and are expected to move from $2,650 to $2,700 for medical care (the IRS must issue a final announcement of these changes to the limit). Maximum contributions for members of the Health Savings Account plan have increased from $3,450 to $3,500 for an individual, and from $6,900 to $7,000 for a family. These maximums include the $1,000 contribution from Cornell.

Enrolling or changing plans

Enrolling is easier than ever. The improved enrollment website uses five simple questions to consider and provides resources to help you plan. The Workday Decision/Enrollment Guide uses decision-support worksheets and a step-by-step guide.

If you are happy with your health and dental plans, don’t need to make any changes to your dependents and don’t want a medical or dependent care FSA, no action is needed. Your non-FSA enrollments will remain the same as 2018.

However, if you need to add a dependent, are enrolling or re-enrolling in an FSA, think it’s time to change health or dental plans or are considering legal plan insurance, go to to get started and follow the Decision/Enrollment Guide link.

Have questions about your health plan or benefits?

Come to Benefair, Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in G10 Biotechnology Building, where you can get answers from Cornell benefits experts and vendor representatives. Workshops and information about financial planning, continuing education, wellness and all the other benefits you can take advantage of as a Cornell employee also are available on the Working at Cornell website.

Employees in New York City can attend a second Benefair, Nov. 13, from 1-4 p.m. at Cornell Tech, Bloomberg Building, Room 161.

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock