Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

When Can I Change My Benefits?

There are two times you can change your benefits: during Open Enrollment or within 30 days of a Qualified Life Event.

Open Enrollment occurs annually in early November and elections will be effective on January 1 of the following calendar year.

A Qualified Life Event (QLE) allows you to make changes to your benefit elections outside of open enrollment. Changes to your benefits related to a Qualified Life Event (QLE) must be completed within 30 days of the date of the event. Examples of a QLE are Births, Adoption, Deaths, Marriage, Divorce, and Loss of Coverage due to employment status changes or major life events.

Open Enrollment

2016 Open Enrollment Period: November 1 - 20, 2015

All open enrollment changes must be made during the annual open enrollment period for changes effective January 1 of the next calendar year. Benefit enrollment for 2016 will be completed on a paper enrollment form instead of using 1600grand. Visit the Benefits page for open enrollment directions and forms.

If I don’t want to make any changes during Open Enrollment, do I have to do anything?
Yes. There are changes in benefits and any new rates will take effect at the start of the new year (January 1). It is strongly recommended that you review your elections and dependents/beneficiaries every year at open enrollment. Please pay extra attention to the following benefits:

  • Short-Term Disability elections will not update automatically to reflect changes in your pay
  • Flexible Spending Accounts require re-enrollment annually


How is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) similar to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and what are the differences between them?

Similarities Include:

  • Both offer tax advantaged methods of paying for qualified health care expenses through payroll deductions per IRS regulations.

Key Differences Include:

  • A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a true savings account. The balance in the HSA accrues across calendar years, can earn interest and is fully portable. If you leave Macalester, any HSA money you may have in that account is yours to take with you, and is usable for qualified medical expenses per IRS guidelines. HSA’s are not taxed if used for qualified medical expenses per IRS definitions. Once elected, contribution amounts can be changed during open enrollment or after a qualified life event change (QLE).
  • A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a calendar year payroll deduction contract. Once elected, contribution amounts can be changed during open enrollment or after a qualified life event change (QLE). Remaining balances in FSA’s at the end of the calendar year are forfeited if expenses are not incurred and submitted for reimbursement and/or if an employee terminates employment. This is often referred to as a “use it or lose it” clause. You are allowed to carry over up to $500 dollars in the Health Care FSA plan. Enrollment must be completed each year as elections do not continue from year to year.

Can I have an HSA and a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Yes, although there is a limitation on how it can be used. Per IRS rules, HSA Plan members can participate in a “limited FSA plan” and are limited to dental and vision expense reimbursements only until the HSA health plan deductible is satisfied.

How many HSA accounts can I have at one time?
One per account holder (though a family must be under IRS annual limits for all accounts)

See benefit pages by clicking on the links in the orange menu to the left for more information on specific benefit plans and coverage.