Federal law requires the university to broadly disseminate certain policies to faculty, staff, and students on an annual basis.
University Benefits is committed to being environmentally friendly whenever possible while still accomplishing our objectives. The federal government has approved email as a method for providing notice of the policies listed below.
This page presents information relating to policies crucial to the mission of the university. Please review the information below, familiarize yourself with these important policies, and use this page for future reference.
Benefits Annual Notices
You are receiving this notice because you are covered under a group health plan (the Plan). This notice contains important information about your right to COBRA continuation coverage, which is a temporary extension of coverage under the Plan. This notice generally explains COBRA continuation coverage, when it may become available to you and your family, and what you need to do to protect the right to receive it. When you become eligible for COBRA, you may also become eligible for other coverage options that may cost less than COBRA Continuation Coverage.
The right to COBRA continuation coverage was created by a federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). COBRA continuation coverage can become available to you when you would otherwise lose your group health coverage. It can also become available to other members of your family who are covered under the Plan when they would otherwise lose their group health coverage. For additional information about your rights and obligations under the Plan and under federal law, you should review the Plan’s Summary Plan Description or contact the University Benefits Office.
You may have other options available to you when you lose group health coverage. For example, you may be eligible to buy an individual plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. By enrolling in coverage through the Marketplace, you may qualify for lower costs on your monthly premiums and in some cases lower out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, you may qualify for a 30-day special enrollment period for another group health plan for which you are eligible (such as a spouse’s plan), even if that plan generally doesn’t accept late enrollees.
What is COBRA Continuation Coverage?
COBRA continuation coverage is a continuation of Plan coverage when coverage would otherwise end because of a life event known as a “qualifying event.” Specific qualifying events are listed later in this notice. After a qualifying event, COBRA continuation coverage must be offered to each person who is a “qualified beneficiary.” You, your spouse*, and your dependent children could become qualified beneficiaries if coverage under the Plan is lost because of the qualifying event. Under the Plan, qualified beneficiaries who elect COBRA continuation coverage must pay for COBRA continuation coverage.
If you are an employee, you will become a qualified beneficiary if you lose your coverage under the Plan because either one of the following qualifying events happens:
- Your hours of employment are reduced to a point you no longer qualify for benefits, or
- Your employment ends for any reason other than your gross misconduct.
If you are the spouse* of an employee, you will become a qualified beneficiary if you lose your coverage under the Plan because any of the following qualifying events happens:
- Your spouse or domestic partner* dies;
- Your spouse’s or domestic partner’s* hours of employment are reduced to a point you no longer qualify for benefits;
- Your spouse’s or domestic partner’s* employment ends for any reason other than his or her gross misconduct;
- Your spouse or domestic partner* becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part B, or both); or
- You become divorced or legally separated from your spouse or domestic partner*.
*Excluding Merit employee domestic partners
Your dependent children will become qualified beneficiaries if they lose coverage under the Plan because any of the following qualifying events happens:
- The parent-employee dies;
- The parent-employee’s hours of employment are reduced to a point you no longer qualify for benefits;
- The parent-employee’s employment ends for any reason other than his or her gross misconduct;
- The parent-employee becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (Part A, Part B, or both);
- The parents become divorced or legally separated; or
- The child stops being eligible for coverage under the plan as a “dependent child.”
When is COBRA Coverage Available?
The Plan will offer COBRA continuation coverage to qualified beneficiaries only after the University Benefits Office has been notified that a qualifying event has occurred.
You Must Give Notice of Some Qualifying Events
For the other qualifying events (divorce or legal separation of the employee and spouse* or a dependent child’s losing eligibility for coverage as a dependent child), you must notify the University Benefits Office within 60 days after the qualifying event occurs. You must provide this notice to the University Benefits Office, 120 USB, Iowa City, IA 52242-1911 (319-335-2676 or toll free 877-830-4001).
How is COBRA Coverage Provided?
Once the Plan Administrator receives notice that a qualifying event has occurred, COBRA continuation coverage will be offered to each of the qualified beneficiaries. Each qualified beneficiary will have an independent right to elect COBRA continuation coverage. Covered employees may elect COBRA continuation coverage on behalf of their spouses*, and parents may elect COBRA continuation coverage on behalf of their children.
COBRA continuation coverage is a temporary continuation of coverage that generally lasts 18 months due to employment termination or reduction of hours of work. Certain qualifying events or a second qualifying event during the initial period of coverage may permit a beneficiary to receive COBRA continuation coverage for up to a total of 36 months.
There are also ways in which this 18-month period of COBRA continuation coverage can be extended.
- Disability extension of 18-month period of continuation coverage;
If you or anyone in your family covered under the Plan is determined by the Social Security Administration to be disabled and you notify the University Benefits Office in a timely fashion, you and your entire family may be entitled to receive up to an additional 11 months of COBRA continuation coverage, for a total maximum of 29 months. The disability would have to have started at some time before the 60th day of COBRA continuation coverage and must last at least until the end of the 18-month period of continuation coverage..
- Second qualifying event extension of 18-month period of continuation coverage;
If your family experiences another qualifying event while receiving 18 months of COBRA continuation coverage, the spouse and dependent children in your family can get up to 18 additional months of COBRA continuation coverage, for a maximum of 36 months, if notice of the second qualifying event is properly given to the Benefits Office. This extension may be available to the spouse and any dependent children receiving continuation coverage if the employee or former employee dies, becomes entitled to Medicare benefits (under Part A, Part b, or both), or gets divorced or legally separated, or if the dependent child stops being eligible under the Plan as a dependent child, but only if the event would have caused the spouse or dependent child to lose coverage under the Plan had the first qualifying event not occurred.
*Excluding Merit employee domestic partners
Are there other coverage options besides COBRA Continuation Coverage?
Yes. Instead of enrolling in COBRA continuation coverage, there may be other coverage options for you and your family through the Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid, or other group health plan coverage options (such as a spouse’s plan) through what is called a “special enrollment period.” Some of these options may cost less than COBRA continuation coverage. You can learn more about many of these options at www.HealthCare.gov.
If You Have Questions
Questions concerning your Plan or your COBRA continuation coverage rights should be addressed to the contact or contacts identified below. For more information about your rights under COBRA, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, and other laws affecting group health plans, contact the nearest Regional or District Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) in your area or visit www.dol.gov/ebsa. For more information about the Marketplace, visit www.HealthCare.gov.
Keep Your Plan Informed of Address Changes
In order to protect your family’s rights, you should keep the University Benefits Office informed of any changes in the addresses of family members. You should also keep a copy, for your records, of any notices you send to the University Benefits Office.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Plan Contact Information
University of Iowa
University Benefits Office
120 University Services Building
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1911
Your Prescription Drug Coverage and Medicare
Please read this carefully and keep it where you can find it. This web page has information about your current prescription drug coverage with The University of Iowa and prescription drug coverage available for people with Medicare. It also explains the options you have under Medicare prescription drug coverage and can help you decide whether or not you want to enroll. At the end of this notice is information where you can find more information to help you to make decisions about your prescription drug coverage.
- Medicare prescription drug coverage became available in 2006 to everyone with Medicare through Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage. All Medicare prescription drug plans provide at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare. Some plans may also offer more coverage for a higher monthly premium.
- The University of Iowa has determined that the prescription drug coverage offered by The University of Iowa is, on average for all plan participants, expected to pay out as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage will pay and is considered Creditable Coverage.
- Because your University of Iowa coverage is on average at least as good as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage, you can keep this coverage and not pay extra if you later decide to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Creditable Prescription Drug Coverage Notice
Individuals can enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan when they first become eligible for Medicare and each year from October 15th through December 7th. Beneficiaries leaving an employer coverage plan may be eligible for a special enrollment period to sign up for a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
You should compare your current coverage, including which drugs are covered, with the coverage and costs of the plans offering Medicare prescription drug coverage in your area.
If you do decide to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan and drop your University of Iowa drug coverage, be aware that you and your dependents will not be able to get back this coverage. What this means is, that you will automatically lose both your prescription drug and your health insurance coverage with The University of Iowa.
Please contact us for more information about what happens to your coverage if you enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan.
You should also know that if you drop or lose your coverage with The University of Iowa and don’t enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage after your current coverage ends, you may pay more (a penalty) to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug coverage later.
If you go 63 days or longer without prescription drugs coverage that is at least as good as Medicare prescription drug coverage, your monthly premium will go up at least 1% per month for every month you do not have that coverage. For example, if you go 19 months without coverage, your premium will always be at least 19% higher than what many other people pay. You will have to pay this higher premium as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage. In addition, you may have to wait until the following November to enroll.
Note: You will receive notice annually and at other times in the future such as before the next period you can enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage, and if this coverage through The University of Iowa changes. You may also request a copy.
Plan Contact Information
For more information about this notice or your current prescription drug coverage, please contact our office.
The University of Iowa
University Benefits Office
120 University Services Building, Suite 40
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
Your Information. Your Rights. Our Responsibilities.
Purpose of this Privacy Notice
The University of Iowa Benefits Office (“Benefits Office” or “we”) administers group health plans for employees, retirees, and students on behalf of the University of Iowa (“University”). The Benefits Office is required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) and related rules to provide you with a written notice of the privacy protections afforded to you by federal law (“Notice of Privacy Practices” or “Notice”) explaining how the Benefits Office uses and discloses your health information to process your health benefit claims, assist with your treatment and conduct its business operations. Participants in the group health plans sponsored by the University may also receive a Notice of Privacy Practices from the group health plans. A complete listing of our current group health plans subject to this notification requirement is available on our website.
Who Will Follow This Notice?
- All employees of the Benefits Office
- University of Iowa Departments and their employees that provide support to the Benefits Office, but only to the minimum extent necessary to perform their jobs. Such departments may include Data Processing, Accounts Receivable, Internal Audit, and Risk Management.
- Business Associates: External individuals or companies hired by the group health plans or the University under special contracts (Business Associate Agreements) to perform certain services on behalf of the plan or the University. These special contracts make sure the Business Associate maintains confidentiality and follows all of the federal and state privacy rules.
Commitment of the University
We, acting on behalf of the University as the Plan Sponsor, may receive your health information from the group health plans because we have agreed to the following:
- We will use your health information as needed to carry out our responsibilities as the Plan Sponsor of the group health plans, provided such uses and disclosures are consistent with the requirements of HIPAA.
- We will not use or further disclose any of your health information except as permitted or required to carry out our responsibilities as Plan Sponsor.
- We will require our Business Associates, including subcontractors or agents who assist us in plan administration, and receive health information, to agree to the same restrictions, conditions and protections that we follow with respect to such information.
- We will not use or disclose your health information obtained as the Plan Sponsor, for employment related actions and decisions, or in connection with any other benefit or employee benefit plan of the University.
- We will, if feasible, return or destroy all health information received from the group health plans that we maintain in any form, and we will not retain copies of such information when no longer needed for the purpose for which it was disclosed. If destruction or return is not feasible, we will limit any further uses of the information to those purposes that make the return or destruction infeasible.
While any employee of the University who has a need to access or use health information to assist the University in carrying out its plan administration responsibilities may receive health information, such health information will generally only be disclosed to employees in the Benefits Office and then only the minimum necessary amount will be disclosed. Any University employee accessing or using health information may do so only in carrying out the plan administration functions that the University performs for the group health plans. This includes those University units and employees who perform services for the group health plans as internal business associates. If there is any non-compliance with the required commitments to the group health plans, the issue of noncompliance will immediately be brought to the attention of the Benefits Office Director and the University of Iowa Privacy Officer for prompt attention.
When it comes to your health information, you have certain rights. This section explains your rights and our responsibilities.
Get a copy of health and claims records
- You can ask to see or get a copy of your health and claims records and other health information we have about you that we use to make decisions about your coverage or benefits. Ask us how to do this.
- We will provide a copy or a summary of your health and claims records, usually within 30 days of your request. We may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee.
- If your request is denied, you will receive a written explanation of the reasons for the denial.
- Hospital records and other records not maintained by us must be obtained directly from the health care provider that maintains those records.
Ask us to correct health and claims records
- You can ask us to correct your health and claims records if you think they are incorrect or incomplete. Ask us how to do this.
- We may say “no” to your request, but we’ll tell you why in writing within 60 days.
Request confidential communications
- You can ask us to contact you in a specific way (for example, home or office phone) or to send mail to a different address.
- We will consider all reasonable requests and must say “yes” if you tell us you would be in danger if we do not.
Ask us to limit what we use or share
- You can ask us not to use or share certain health information for treatment, payment, or our operations.
- We are not required to agree to your request, and we may say “no” if it would affect your care or our ability to do our job.
Get a list of those with whom we’ve shared information
- You can ask for a list (accounting) of the times we’ve shared your health information for six years prior to the date you ask, who we shared it with, and why.
- We will include all the disclosures except for those about treatment, payment, and health care operations, and certain other disclosures (such as any you asked us to make). We’ll provide one accounting a year for free but will charge a reasonable, cost-based fee if you ask for another one within 12 months.
Get a copy of this Privacy Notice
You can ask for a paper copy of this Notice at any time, even if you have agreed to receive the Notice electronically. We will provide you with a paper copy promptly. You can also download a copy of the Notice.
Choose someone to act for you
- If you have given someone medical power of attorney or if someone is your legal guardian, that person can exercise your rights and make choices about your health information.
- We will make sure the person has this authority and can act for you before we take any action.
File a complaint if you feel your rights are violated
- You can complain if you feel we have violated your rights by contacting the University of Iowa Privacy Officer, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, 1346 JCP, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1009; calling the Compliance Helpline at 319-384-8190; or e-mailing email@example.com.
- You can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights by sending a letter to 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201; calling 1- 877-696-6775; or visiting www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/.
- We will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.
For certain health information, you can tell us your choices about what we share. If you have a clear preference for how we share your information in the situations described below, talk to us. Tell us what you want us to do, and we will follow your instructions.
In these cases, you have both the right and choice to tell us to:
- Share information with your family, close friends, or others involved in payment for your care
- Share information in a disaster relief situation
If you are not able to tell us your preference, for example if you are unconscious, we may go ahead and share your information if we believe it is in your best interest. We may also share your information when needed to lessen a serious and imminent threat to health or safety.
In these cases, we never share your information unless you give us written permission:
- Marketing purposes
Our Uses and Disclosures
How do we typically use or share your health information?
We typically use or share your health information in the following ways.
Help manage the health care treatment you receive
- We can use your health information and share it with professionals who are treating you.
Example: A doctor sends us information about your diagnosis and treatment plan so we can arrange additional services.
Run our organization
- We can use and disclose your information to run our organization and contact you when necessary.
- We are not allowed to use genetic information to decide whether we will give you coverage and the price of that coverage. This does not apply to long-term care plans.
Example: We use health information about you for care coordination, case management, to pay your health care spending account claims, and to develop better services for you.
Pay for your health services
- We can use and disclose your health information as we pay for your health services.
Example: A Plan may use your health information to confirm enrollment and coverage, or coordinate services with other insurance carriers.
How else can we use or share your health information?
We are allowed and sometimes required to share your information in other ways – usually in ways that contribute to the public good, such as public health and research. We have to meet many conditions in the law before we can share your information for these purposes. For more information, see: www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/index.html.
As Required by Law. A Plan may use or disclose your personal health information for other important activities permitted or required by state or federal law, with or without your authorization. These include, for example:
- To the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to audit Plan records.
- As authorized by state workers’ compensation laws.
- To comply with legal proceedings, such as a court or administrative order or subpoena.
- To law enforcement officials for limited law enforcement purposes.
- To a governmental agency authorized to oversee the health care system or government programs.
- To public officials for lawful intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security purposes.
- To public health authorities for public health purposes.
Each Plan may also use and disclose your health information as follows:
- To a family member, friend or other person, to help with your health care or payment for health care, if you are in a situation such as a medical emergency and cannot give your agreement to a Plan to do this.
- To your personal representatives appointed by you or designated by applicable law.
- To consider claims and appeals regarding such things as coverage, exclusion, and cost issues.
- For research purposes in limited circumstances.
- To a coroner, medical examiner, or funeral director about a deceased person.
- To an organ procurement organization in limited circumstances.
- To avert a serious threat to your health or safety or the health or safety of others.
Other applicable laws
The Plan’s use and disclosure of your personal health information must comply with applicable Iowa law and other federal laws besides HIPAA. Iowa law and federal regulations place certain additional restrictions on the use and disclosure of personal health information for mental health, substance abuse, HIV/AIDs, and certain genetic information. In some instances, your specific authorization may be required.
- We are required by law to maintain the privacy and security of your protected health information.
- We will let you know promptly if a breach occurs that may have compromised the privacy or security of your information.
- We must follow the duties and privacy practices described in this Notice and give you a copy of it.
- We will not use or share your information other than as described here unless you tell us we can in writing. If you tell us we can, you may change your mind at any time. Let us know in writing if you change your mind. Your revocation will be effective for all of the health information listed in your written permission, unless the Plan has taken action in reliance on your authorization.
For more information, see: www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/noticepp.html.
Changes to the Terms of this Notice
We are required to follow the terms of this Notice until it is replaced. We can change the terms of this Notice, and the changes will apply to all information we have about you. The new Notice will be available upon request, on our website, and we will mail a copy to you.
The effective date of this notice is April 14, 2003; revised on September 30, 2013.
Contact Information for Questions
If you have questions about this HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices, you may contact the Benefits Office by:
- Calling the Benefits Office, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at: 319-335-2676 or 877-830-4001.
- E-mailing questions to the Benefits Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mailing questions to: Benefits Administration Office, University of Iowa, 120 University Services Building, Iowa City, IA., 52242-1911.
Contact the University of Iowa Privacy Officer at:
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics 200 Hawkins Drive, 1346 JCP
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009 319-384-8282
If you or your children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP and you’re eligible for health coverage from your employer, your state may have a premium assistance program that can help pay for coverage, using funds from their Medicaid or CHIP programs. If you or your children aren’t eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, you won’t be eligible for these premium assistance programs but you may be able to buy individual insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov.
If you or your dependents are already enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP and you live in a State listed below, contact your State Medicaid or CHIP office to find out if premium assistance is available.
If you or your dependents are NOT currently enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, and you think you or any of your dependents might be eligible for either of these programs, contact your State Medicaid or CHIP office or dial 1-877-KIDS NOW or www.insurekidsnow.gov to find out how to apply. If you qualify, ask your state if it has a program that might help you pay the premiums for an employer-sponsored plan.
If you or your dependents are eligible for premium assistance under Medicaid or CHIP, as well as eligible under your employer plan, your employer must allow you to enroll in your employer plan if you aren’t already enrolled. This is called a “special enrollment” opportunity, and you must request coverage within 60 days of being determined eligible for premium assistance. If you have questions about enrolling in your employer plan, contact the Department of Labor at www.askebsa.dol.gov or call 1-866-444-EBSA (3272).
OMB Control Number 1210-0137 (expires 10/31/2016)
You have the option of saving for your retirement with both before and/or after‐tax options.
If you are in a position to do so, saving early and often for your retirement is a wise idea.
You can find more information on the Saving for Retirement web site.
You can also talk to one of our knowledgeable benefits specialists in person, by e‐mail, or by phone at:
University Benefits Office Email: email@example.com
University Benefits Office Phone: (319) 335-2676 | Toll-free: (877) 830-4001
University Benefits Office Address:
1st floor, 120 University Services Building
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act
A federal mandate was created by the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. This law requires employer health plans to provide notice of this coverage to all health insurance participants prior to January 1, 1999 and annually thereafter.
Beginning in 1999, Federal Law requires employer health plans to provide coverage for the following services to an individual receiving benefits in connection with a mastectomy:
- Reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy has been performed.
- Surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance.
- Prosthesis and physical complications for all stages of mastectomy, including lymphedemas (swelling associated with the removal of lymph nodes).
Coverage for breast reconstruction related services is subject to any deductibles and co-insurance amounts that are consistent with those that apply to other benefits under the health plan. All of the State of Iowa and The University of Iowa Health Plans comply with this law.
If you have questions concerning the provisions of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, please feel free to contact the University Benefits Office at (319) 335-2676 or toll-free at 1-877-830-4001.
Under the Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act of 1996, Group Health Plans that provide benefits for childbirth must annually notify all participants of this act. Mothers and their newborn children are permitted to remain in the hospital for 48 hours after a normal delivery or 96 hours following a cesarean section. However, an attending provider may discharge a mother or her newborn earlier than 48 hours, or 96 hours in the case of a cesarean section, if he or she makes this decision in consultation with the mother.
Under the Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act provisions, the time limits affecting the stay begin at the time of delivery, if the delivery occurs in a hospital. If delivery occurs outside the hospital, the stay begins when the mother or newborn is admitted in connection with the childbirth. Whether the admission is in connection with childbirth is a medical decision to be made by the attending provider. A health plan may not require that a health care provider obtain authorization from the plan for all or part of the hospital stay required under the Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act provisions. But, the rules do provide that plans may require pre-certification for the entire length of the hospital stay.
Under the Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act, an attending provider is defined as an individual who is licensed under applicable state law to provide maternity or pediatric care to a mother or newborn child. Therefore, attending providers could include physicians, nurse midwives, and physician’s assistants. Attending providers do not include health plans, hospitals, and managed care organizations.
All of the State of Iowa and The University of Iowa health plans follow the above guidelines.
If you have questions concerning the provisions of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act or the Newborn and Mothers Health Protection Act, please feel free to contact the University Benefits Office at (319) 335-2676 or toll-free at 1 877 830 4001.
The health insurance plans offered by the University meet the minimum essential coverage and minimum value standard requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
For more information, please feel free to contact the University Benefits Office at 319-335-2676 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.