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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 marriage, divorce or the birth/adoption of a child.  Additional qualifying events include commencement or separation of your spouse’s employment, a change on the part of you or your spouse from full-time to part-time employment status or visa versa that results in a change in benefit eligibility, taking an unpaid leave of absence, change in benefit elections on the part of you or your spouse during open enrollment. You must notify HR of the desired enrollment change within 30 days of the qualified event in order to make mid-year changes and provide documentation related to qualifying life event change. HR will meet with you to review the documentation you provide related to the life event change and open a special enrollment in the benefit enrollment system for changes to be made to your benefits.

  • Open Enrollment

    All open enrollment changes must be made during the annual open enrollment period for changes effective January 1 of the next calendar year. Visit the Benefits page for open enrollment directions and the next year’s benefits summary.

    If I don’t want to make any changes during Open Enrollment, do I have to do anything?
    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:

    • Flexible Spending Accounts require re-enrollment annually

  • HSA vs. FSA

    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 at anytime throughout the year.
    • 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.