The Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC) serves as an advisory board for the Treasurer, Provost, and Employment Services Director.  As a representative body, BAC recognizes the importance of both tangible and intangible benefits.  The Committee advocates for comprehensive benefits which meet the needs of a diverse workforce with appropriate financial contributions from both the institution and the employees.  BAC considers concerns of Macalester community members regarding benefits and makes recommendations when appropriate.  The Committee also assists with communicating benefits information to the Macalester community to ensure that everyone is well informed.

Questions or concerns may be directed to any of the Benefits Advisory Committee members.

Eric Wiertelak, Faculty Representative and Chair 2021-2022

Jason Dempster, Employment Services Representative

Maja Reyes, Non-Exempt Staff Representative

Andrew Beveridge, Faculty Representative

Pete Ferderer, Strategic Planning and Analysis Committee Liaison (Faculty)

Lucy Bauer, Exempt Staff Representative

Sandra Street, Collective Bargaining Staff Representative

Bob Graf, Director of Employment Services, Ex Officio

Meetings 2021-2022

July 20, 2021: The committee met to receive a presentation on proposed healthcare insurance structure and costs for calendar year 2022 from Employment Services. Committee members discussed and asked for clarification on several aspects of the plan to be provided in a subsequent meeting.

August 6, 2021: The committee reconvened discussion of the 2020 healthcare insurance structure and costs. Ultimately, a plan for 2022 was endorsed by the committee by vote, and a recommendation was sent to Associate Vice President for Finance Patricia Langer and Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Anderson-Levy.

No regular monthly meetings are scheduled in Fall, 2021 as per committee practice to allow Employment Services time for preparation and conduct of the open enrollment period. Meetings in Spring, 2022 will be held monthly  beginning in late February. These meetings are topic driven, including discussion of the funding reserve supporting our self-insured status, aspects of our overall benefits program, and other topics that emerge or are brought to the attention of the committee from the community. Summaries of meetings will be posted here following each meeting.

February 25, 2022: The committee held a meeting via Zoom on February 25, 2022 with two main agenda items; 1) to discuss the status of the institution’s reserve funds for both health and dental insurance coverage, and 2) to begin our Spring review of the benefits program with an overall review of each benefit. Planned follow-ups for the March meeting will be continued review of healthcare utilization and our reserves, and to discuss the paid parental leave benefit in comparison to other institutions.

March 24, 2022: The committee held a meeting via Zoom on March 24, 2022 with three main agenda items; 1) to examine healthcare utilization data, and discuss the status of the institution’s reserve funds for both health and dental insurance coverage, 2) discussion of the paid parental leave benefit in comparison to other institutions, which revealed the Macalester benefit is in line with/compares favorably with other institutions; and 3) discussion of formulas for vacation time accruals.

Meetings 2020-2021

July 29, 2020: The committee met via Zoom to receive a presentation on proposed healthcare insurance structure and costs for calendar year 2021 from Employment Services. Committee members discussed and asked for clarification on several aspects of the plan to be provided in a subsequent meeting.

August 12, 2020: The committee reconvened via Zoom and continued discussion of the 2021 healthcare insurance structure and costs. Ultimately, a plan for 2021 was endorsed by the committee by vote, and a recommendation was sent to Treasurer Wheaton and Provost Moe.

December 14, 2020: While it is typical that no further meetings are held in Fall to allow preparation and conduct of the open enrollment period, the committee held a meeting via Zoom on December 14, 2020, to review the results of the annual open enrollment period, and discuss the status of the institution’s reserve funds for both health and dental insurance coverage. The annual enrollment went well, and our insurance programs remain well funded by our reserves, a welcome situation at the institution at any time, but particularly so in the moment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

February 26, 2021: The committee held a meeting via Zoom on February 26, 2021 with two main agenda items; 1) to discuss the status of the institution’s reserve funds for both health and dental insurance coverage, and 2) to discuss the structure of the health insurance program (the plan) that, while self-funded, is still administered by HealthPartners. One member of our insured population brought a question about drug rebates and the out-of-pocket expense, related to changes previously announced and in force this calendar year, that the plan would seek to collect these rebates rather than HealthPartners and individuals insured by our plan. This change had resulted in savings across the population of those insured through the plan in the form of lower monthly premiums, and to the college.

April 16, 2021: The committee held a meeting via Zoom on April 16, 2021 with two main agenda items; 1) to review the status of the institution’s reserve funds for both health and dental insurance coverage, and 2) to discuss the structure of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and COBRA coverage changes related to recent federal legislation (COVID-19 related relief– i.e., CARES Act, earlier Acts) . One member of our insured population brought a specific question about rollovers and FSAs. In brief, the following were discussed and approved by vote during the meeting:

  • Health FSA:
    • Allow unlimited carryovers from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022 for unused remaining health FSA dollars.
    • Allow participants to change elections 2 times during 2021 without a life event change.  Participants will be required to coordinate these change requests through Employment Services.
    • Allow employees who stop participating in health FSA at any time during 2021 to receive reimbursements from unused FSA contributions through 12/31/2021.
    • An all faculty/all staff notification will be sent once our vendor has set up their systems.
  • Dependent Care FSA:
    • Allow unlimited carryovers from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022 for unused remaining Dependent Care FSA dollars.
    • Allow unused dependent care FSA amount for children until they turn 14 at least through the end of 2021.
    • Allow participants to change elections 2 times during 2021 without a life event change.  Participants will be required to coordinate these change requests through Employment Services.
    • An all faculty/all staff notification will be sent once our vendor has set up their systems.
  • COBRA Subsidy:
    • Allow for employees who departed Macalester due to involuntary termination or reduction of hours to receive COBRA paid by American Rescue Act between 4/1/2021 and 9/30/2021.
    • COBRA Participants must be within eligibility period.  Does not extend COBRA eligibility period.
    • Excludes voluntary resignations, Medicare eligible participants and participants that have coverage available elsewhere.
    • Includes existing coverage at time of departure or reduction in hours for health, dental and vision insurance.
    • A special notice and enrollment will be provided to those eligible.

The next meeting of the committee was set for July, 2021 to discuss the health and dental plan structures and costs for calendar year 2022.

Meetings 2019-2020

July 31, 2019: The committee met to receive a presentation on proposed healthcare insurance structure and costs for calendar year 2020 from Employment Services. Committee members discussed and asked for clarification on several aspects of the plan to be provided in a subsequent meeting.

August 21, 2019: The committee reconvened discussion of the 2020 healthcare insurance structure and costs. Ultimately, a plan for 2020 was endorsed by the committee by vote, and a recommendation was sent to Treasurer Wheaton and Provost Moe.

No further meetings were held in Fall as per practice to allow preparation and conduct of the open enrollment period. Meetings in Spring, 2020 were not held routinely  beginning in late February due to the abrupt changes in college-wide on-campus and off-campus activities necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These meetings, when held are topic driven, including discussion of the funding reserve supporting our self-insured status, aspects of our overall benefits program, and other topics that emerge or are brought to the attention of the committee from the community. Summaries of meetings are posted here following each meeting.