Employee Health Plan Task Force a.k.a. EHPTF!
Nobody does acronyms better than higher education and one to keep in mind particularly at this time of year…at least as far as the University of Maine System is concerned…is EHPTF.
Otherwise known as the Employee Health Plan Task Force, EHPTF is a multi-stakeholder forum providing guidance to the University of Maine System regarding health care benefits for employees and their dependents.
Short version? In a world where UMS is “self-insured” paying for all medical and prescription claims for covered employees and their dependents, EHPTF’s leadership is very important to supporting health care management practices that impact both quality and cost.
Comprised of bargaining unit representatives, colleagues from a wide spectrum of other System groups, University of Maine System Human Resources and partners such as Cigna, EHPTF concentrates its efforts this time of year by recommending actions that will contribute to continuing a competitive employee health care benefit. At the same, the task force’s work is also directed toward reducing the cost trend for the employee health plan. In the process, the financial stability of UMS is enhanced while also mitigating potential health care premium increases for employees.
Stave Off the Blues:
Specially Designed Lenses
Are digital screens keeping you up at night leaving you sluggish the next day? Sounds like it could be time to ask your eye doctor about options to keep the blues at bay.
With the average person spending 7.4 hours per day using digital devices, blue light has become a real threat to our health.1
By day, natural blue light helps our bodies remain attentive and in good spirits by suppressing the secretion of melatonin and keeping it in check. As day turns to night, our melatonin levels rise and prepare us for sleep. Today, with increased exposure to artificial lighting and digital screens, artificial blue light disrupts our natural sleep patterns.
Without getting too scientific, blue light rays are part of the natural visible light spectrum. They can be found naturally in the sun but also in energy-saving fluorescent light-bulbs and digital devices like computers, tablets and smartphones.
Research has proven that prolonged exposure to blue light emitted from digital screens can lead to digital eye strain, exacerbate the early on-set of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and compromise our general health and well-being.2
Filter it out
What can we do to protect our baby blues and ensure a good night’s sleep?
The good news is that protecting our peepers has never been easier. With advanced filtering technology now available in lenses, you can rest assured your eyes will be protected.
Blue light protection can be applied to the lenses in your glasses in two ways. It can either be added to the lens material itself, or it can be added to a lens as a finishing coat. While both options are helpful, some studies indicate that adding blue-light protection directly into the lens material may be more effective.
Joe Wende, sr. medical director at EyeMed Vision Care, suggests, “While we don’t yet understand the full impact of artificial blue light, there’s a lot of evidence indicating that it’s better to play it safe and wear blue light filtering lenses than take a risk and be sorry later.”
You should also know that, according to the American Optometric Association, a tinted lens is required to reduce retinal exposure to visible light.4 The AOA states that a yellow, amber, orange or red lens is required to protect the retina more fully from blue light. If you notice a warmer, tonal tinge in the lens, this means blue light lenses are getting the job done.
No matter what solution you and your doctor decide is right for you, choose a solution that filters harmful light off the screen, doesn’t distort color and preferably includes polycarbonate lenses, especially for kids.
Protect those baby blues
We know that blue light is part of your everyday life, so EyeMed vision benefits now offer blue light filtering technology options in your next pair of prescription glasses.
This means your eyes can stay protected for as little as $15*. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Talk to your eye doctor about what’s best for you. However you choose to protect your eyes from the harmful effect of blue light, EyeMed providers are committed to keeping your eyes healthy and safe so you see life to the fullest.
*In addition to the cost of any applicable material up-charge based on your frame and lens selection.
Pollen, dust mites and pet dander! Oh, my!
It’s here—allergy season. Our Board Certified doctors are ready to help with your runny noses, itchy eyes, congestion, and all other allergy symptoms.
Just give us a call or start a secure video chat anytime, anywhere. Call us at 1-888-726-3171
or visit us online at MDLIVE.com/
Keep your allergies in check.
Follow these simple tips provided by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology to help relieve your seasonal allergy symptoms:
■ Keep your windows closed at night and use an air conditioner, if possible.
■ Wear a pollen mask if long-term outdoor exposure is expected.
■ Don’t mow the lawn or rake the leaves. If these chores are necessary, wear a mask.
■ Keep your car windows closed.
■ Don’t hang sheets and clothes outside to dry.
Fight back against indoor allergens.
The following tips can help reduce your indoor allergy symptoms:
■Reduce mite levels in your bedroom by washing bedding
regularly in hot water and drying it in a hot dryer.
■Cover your mattress with an allergen-proof cover.
■Address mold issues immediately. You can use a dehumidifier
in constantly damp areas to help reduce the spread of mold.
When you need support, Cigna Employee Assistance Program is available 24/7
A visit to the EAP web site can often be helpful…
But, sometimes…you need more.
If you are experiencing relationship issues, parenting concerns, anxiety, stress, depression, grief, domestic violence or substance abuse, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is ready to help.
Unlimited telephonic counseling and up to 6 face-to-face counseling sessions per issue per year are available at no cost to you and family members who live with you.
To Access CIGNA EAP
or visit www.cignabehavioral.com
(Employer ID: ums)
Our EAP advocates are trained to not only assist up front with professional support, but follow through by offering referrals and assisting you in finding appointment availability in your area.
If you are experiencing difficulty finding a provider and setting up sessions or just need a helping hand navigating the search process, always feel free to reach out directly to an EAP advocate at 877-622-4327 and they will be happy to support your efforts to gain the help that you need.
As you can imagine, there is high demand for professional care to deal with life’s many issues and challenges. Providers often fill their appointment availability quickly. But, take heart. We are dedicated to guiding you past the “Not Accepting Patients at This Time” responses that can often complicate your best efforts to seek professional support.
That’s why our advocates are trained to not only remain engaged with your immediate circumstances, but why we continue to manage and update our database of providers to ensure you have options when you need them.
All outdoor activities can expose your skin to sun damage so it's important to know how to protect yourself. Whether you are swimming at the beach or jogging in the park, too much exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can damage your skin.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These simple steps can help you protect your skin from sun damage that could lead to skin cancer.
See your doctor if you notice any changes to your skin or have any questions or concerns.
The Cigna Health Information Line
A telephone service staffed by nurses that helps you understand and make informed decisions about health issues you are experiencing, at no extra cost. It can help you choose the right care in the right setting at the right time, whether it’s reviewing home treatment options, following up on a doctor’s appointment, or finding the nearest urgent care center. Just call the number on your Cigna ID card. Open 24/7.
For health care options to consider in terms of coverage, cost, and time click below!
Get treatment from a doctor for minor, non-emergency conditions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Use MDLIVE services, from just about anywhere in the U.S. with a phone or computer with webcam. (1)
Call 888.726.3171 or visit mdlive.com/
Treatment available for:
Convenience Care Clinic
Treats minor medical concerns. Staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Located in retail stores and pharmacies. Often open nights and weekends.
Treatment available for:
Colds and flu
Rashes or skin conditions
Sore throats, earaches, sinus pain
Minor cuts or burns
Costs the same or lower than doctor's office
No appointment needed
The best place to go for routine or preventive care, to keep track of medications, or for a referral to see a specialist.
Treatment available for:
Urgent Care Center
For conditions that aren't life threatening. Staffed by nurses and doctors and usually have extended hours.
Treatment available for:
For immediate treatment of critical injuries or illness. Open 24/7. If a situation seems life-threatening, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
"Freestanding" emergency room (ER) locations are becoming more common in many areas. Because these ERs are not inside hospitals, they may look like urgent care centers. When you receive care at an ER, you're billed at a much higher cost than at other health care facilities.
Treatment available for:
No appointment needed
Wait times may be long, averaging over 4 hours. (3)
To find a specific health care facility or doctor, go to myCigna.com or use the myCigna Mobile app. (4)
When you have a health savings account it’s important to know the impact it can have on your annual federal and state income taxes.* Understanding the tax benefits, including your HSA’s triple-tax advantage, how to file for an HSA deduction and knowing the specific guidelines for your state, will help you get the most from your Cigna Choice Fund® HSA.**
Understanding tax benefits
You may know that the HSA is tax-advantaged, but do you know how to maximize that tax benefit? Here are some important questions to consider that will help you understand how you can benefit, or can increase your tax benefits, with the HSA:
› Are you receiving contributions from your employer?
› Are you contributing additional funds to your HSA? Is anyone else contributing?
› Have you made any rollovers this year from another HSA or IRA?
› Are you tracking your medical expenses? Are you keeping your receipts?
› Do you know where to check on your contributions and distributions for the year?
› Do you have an investment account, and if so, has the account gained or lost value?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better understand your tax advantages.
Your HSA is triple-tax advantaged:
› Contributions – Your contributions can be reduced from your taxable income either by making pretax payroll deductions or contributing post tax and listing the contributions on your federal income tax return. (Use the Form 8889.)
› Earnings – Any interest earned in your HSA cash account and any increase in the value of your mutual fund investments are tax-free, meaning that you do not have to list these as taxable income on your federal income tax return. No action is required to report these earnings.
› Paying for medical expenses – As long as you use the HSA for approved health care expenses,*** you do not pay any taxes on the money that you take out of the account. This means that every time you make a purchase, you are actually saving money.
Quick Tip: Use our HSA Savings Calculator to estimate your annual tax savings.
Filing for an HSA deduction
The IRS says that you must file Form 8889 if you (or someone on your behalf, including your employer) add to your HSA account. Form 8889 must also be filed if you take funds out of an HSA, even if you don’t make a contribution to the HSA that year.
While we cannot provide tax advice, we can provide some information concerning the W-2 you may receive for payroll deductions and how it applies to Form 8889. If you need tax advice, please consult a qualified tax advisor or the IRS.
› If you are receiving contributions from your employer via payroll deductions, your payroll deductions for the HSA account will be shown on your W-2 in box 12, marked code “W.” Because your payroll deductions were taken pretax, they are considered “employer contributions” and are to be entered on line nine of Form 8889. Since payroll deductions for the HSA were taken pretax, you will not be able to claim a deduction on line 13.
› If you made after-tax contributions to an HSA (sent a check or withdrew money from your bank account, for example) – your contributions should be eligible for a tax deduction. See the IRS instructions for additional information on above-the-line deductions.
› If you took funds out of your HSA account, you will receive a 1099-SA reporting the distribution of funds from your HSA. These distributions from your HSA will be entered on line 14a of Form 8889. If you have unreimbursed qualified medical expenses, they may be entered on line 15 of Form 8889. See the IRS instructions for an explanation of what may be included as an unreimbursed approved medical expense.
* HSA contributions and earnings are not subject to federal taxes and not subject to state taxes in most states. A few states do not allow pretax treatment of contributions or earnings. See your professional tax advisor for information about your state.
** All of these strategies should be carefully considered in light of your cash flow, tax and investment options. Investments are subject to market fluctuation, investment risk and possible loss of principal. Cigna always recommends you discuss these strategies with a professional financial planner and tax advisor. *** See Cigna.com/expenses.
This information is not intended as financial or tax advice and is not an opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. You are urged to consult a professional tax advisor concerning your own situation and any specific questions you may have. The HSA provider and/or trustee/custodian is responsible for all HSA services, transactions and related activities. Cigna and your employer are not responsible for any aspects of the HSA services, administration or operation.
All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. All models are used for illustrative purposes only.
882304 06/15 © 2015 Cigna. Some content provided under license.
Need to Save for Retirement or
Want to Contribute More?
Did you know that you can adjust your contributions to your 403(b) or 457 (b) retirement plan anytime during the calendar year even if you made a change during Open Enrollment last November?
If you are currently participating in the University of Maine System’s 403(b) or 457(b) plan with TIAA, you may be able to save even more for retirement by increasing your pre-tax contributions.
Here is why...
As you know, the University of Maine System offers employees the opportunity to save for retirement and supplement basic pension benefits by making contributions on a pre-tax basis. This opportunity allows for saving on Federal and State taxes.
Contributions may be made up to the maximum permitted by the Internal Revenue Code [Section 403(b) and 415] with TIAA. See below for further information. To find out who is eligible, how to enroll or make changes to your plan, go to the UMS employee portal www.myyms.maine.edu, and visit under Human Resources/Employee Information/Benefits headings.
How much can I contribute?
In general, you may elect to contribute up to $18,000 in calendar year 2017. This amount is the general limit on what you can elect to defer under the 403(b) plan and may be adjusted annually in accordance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines.
However, please keep in mind...
Additional catch-up contributions may be permitted if certain criteria are met. Specifically, if you are at least age 50 (or will turn age 50 during the calendar year), you may defer an additional $6,000 contribution, which is referred to as a catch-up contribution.
This means that if you are under age 50, you may contribute a maximum of $18,000 in calendar 2017; if you are age 50 or older or will turn age 50 sometime during calendar year 2017, you may contribute a maximum of $24,000 ($18,000 plus $6,000 age 50 catch-up during the calendar year).
What do I have to do to contribute or adjust my contributions to the 403(b) plan?
To begin pre-tax contributions or to change your current pre-tax contributions, please complete your elections online in MaineStreet. If you do not have access to a computer, contact the Employee Benefits Center (EBC) at (866) 269-9635 and complete a Salary Reduction Agreement.
Please keep in mind that you must establish an account directly with TIAA, the sole record keeper. You may change your 403(b) contributions at any time during the calendar year and as often as you like. You may, of course, keep your contributions at their current level.
457(b) Limits are exactly the same
All UMS employees who are eligible to tax-defer income under the 403(b) plan are also eligible to defer under the University’s 457(b) plan. While the 457(b) plan operates similarly to any other tax-deferred voluntary option relative to deferral of federal and state taxes, IRS regulations currently permit you to defer the calendar year maximum under each plan.
The 457(b) calendar maximums are the same as the 403(b) limits above. Therefore, if you are under age 50, you could defer a total of $18,000 in the 403(b) plan and $18,000 in the 457(b) plan; if you are age 50 or older or will turn age 50 sometime during the calendar year, you could defer a total of $24,000 in the 403(b) plan and $24,000 in the 457(b) plan.
To begin or change contributions under the 457(b) plan, please adjust your elections on line in MaineStreet. If you do not have access to a computer, contact your Employee Benefits Center at email@example.com or (866) 269-9635 and complete a Salary Reduction Agreement.
Did you know you don’t have to be a financial expert to be smart about money?
April is National Financial Literacy Month! Knowing how to manage your money can help you pursue financial goals like paying down debt, saving for retirement, buying a house or other priorities. To make the most of your money, create a plan that helps you save and invest wisely and get the most from your employer benefits. Learn more.
The University of Maine System does not provide legal, tax, or financial advice. Employees are encouraged to contact their financial representative or tax professional
Other coverage: Your plan supplements the preventive care services listed above with additional services that are commonly ordered by primary care physicians during preventive care visits. These include services such as urinalysis, EKG, thyroid screening, electrolyte panel, Vitamin D measurement, bilirubin, iron and metabolic panels.
This document provides highlights of preventive care coverage generally. Some preventive services may not be covered under your plan. For example, immunizations for travel are generally not covered. Other non-covered services/supplies may include any service or device that is not medically necessary or services/supplies that are unproven (experimental or investigational). For the specific coverage terms of your plan, refer to the Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or Insurance Certificate.
“Cigna,” the “Tree of Life” logo and “Together, all the way.” are registered service marks, of Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc., licensed for use by Cigna Corporation and its operating subsidiaries. All products and services are provided by or through such operating subsidiaries, and not by Cigna Corporation. Such operating subsidiaries include Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna Behavioral Health, Inc., and HMO or service company subsidiaries of Cigna Health Corporation, including Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of California, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Colorado, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Connecticut, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Florida, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc. (IL & IN), Cigna HealthCare of Indiana, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of St. Louis, Inc. (MO, KS & IL), Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of New Jersey, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Tennessee, Inc. (TN & MS), and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc.
855050 e 08/15 © 2015 Cigna. Some content provided under license.
*Savings are based on a 90-day fill/refill and are subject to your plan’s provisions. Your benefit plan may differ based on state law. Please check your plan documents for more details and to confirm that you have the Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy benefit.
All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Tel-Drug, Inc., Tel-Drug of Pennsylvania, L.L.C., and HMO or service company subsidiaries of Cigna Health Corporation. “Cigna Specialty Pharmacy Services” refers to the specialty drug division of Tel-Drug, Inc. and Tel-Drug of Pennsylvania, L.L.C., doing business as Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc.
886437 11/15 © 2015 Cigna. Some content provided under license.