Annual Benefits Open Enrollment

Illustration of a bullhorn.

Benefits Open Enrollment 2021

The Annual Open Enrollment period for 2021 benefits will begin at 8:00 a.m. Oct. 22 through 5:00 p.m. Nov. 13, 2020. 

Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to reflect upon your current benefit elections and make any needed changes for the upcoming year. During Open Enrollment, faculty and staff may enroll, add, or remove eligible dependents, make changes to their health and dental insurance, change life insurance benefit options, and re-enroll in Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). 

Even if you are satisfied with your current benefits, we encourage benefit-eligible employees to log in to Employee Self Service and review their benefit elections. 

Letters on a keyboard spelling out "open enrollment"

New This Year:

Due to the pandemic, our office will be conducting a virtual Open Enrollment. The following are resources to help you succeed during this period.

Coming Soon:

  • View the 2021 Open Enrollment video, which highlights what you need to know before making your elections.
  • An interactive 2021 Benefits Enrollment guide that includes more details of the items discussed in the video. Step-by-step instructions for enrolling are provided in this guide.
  • Real Life Scenarios
  • A short video on "How-To-Enroll" in your benefits 
  • Zoom Question & Answer sessions: join a 45-minute session with one of our Benefits Specialists to ask your open enrollment related questions. These are group sessions and you do not need to register to join.

Changes in 2021 Benefits

University Benefits encourages every employee to review both UIChoice and UISelect rates for 2021. New rates will be effective Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021.

UIChoice Rates:

  • Health care monthly premiums will increase for UIChoice.
  • Employee Only and Double Spouse Family option: As a result of the Health Benefits Review in 2019, it was determined that UIChoice employee only and double spouse family coverages would pay 5 percent of the calculated premium in 2020 and 10 percent of the calculated premium in 2021 and subsequent years. 
  • There are no changes in the percent of cost share for Employee+Spouse, Employee+Child(ren) and Employee+Family. These members will continue to pay 20% of the premiums.
  • Please review the 2021 UIChoice rates that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

UISelect Rates:

  • Health care monthly premiums will increase for UISelect.
  • UISelect will remain the zero-premium cost option for the employee only and double spouse family coverage.
  • There are no changes in the percent of cost share for Employee+Spouse, Employee+Child(ren) and Employee+Family. These members will continue to pay 20% of the premiums. However,m the monthly premium cost for these members did increase.
  • Please review UISelect rates that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Dental II Rates:

  • Monthly premiums will not increase for Dental II in 2021.

Other Insurance:

If you wish to participate in the FSA program, you must re-enroll during the open enrollment period. 

The Health Care Flexible Spending Account maximum will increase to $2,750 for calendar year 2021.

Learn more about FSAs. 

What is Not Changing?

Most university benefits will remain unchanged in 2021, including the following:

  • No changes to the UIChoice and UISelect plan design or coverage.
  • No changes to the Dental II insurance plan design or rates.
  • No changes to Group Life insurance plan or rates.
  • No changes to Voluntary Term Life insurance plan or rates
  • No changes to Accidental Death and Dismemberment plan or rates.

Adding/Removing a Dependent 

Adding a dependent to your health and/or dental insurance

Any employee who plans to add a spouse, partner, and/or dependent to their insurance will be required to verify each dependent(s) eligibility within four weeks of adding them to health and/or dental coverage. If complete documentation is not received within four weeks, your unverified dependent(s) will be removed from coverage and cannot be added without a qualifying event.

Once your enrollment has been submitted to University Benefits, you will receive an email from our office as soon as your Verify Dependents link is available in Employee Self Service. This is where you will upload your documents to verify eligibility for each dependent added to the plan(s). Please review the required documentation list so you are prepared when it is time for you to verify. DO NOT EMAIL YOUR DOCUMENTS TO THE BENEFITS OFFICE.

Removing dependents who are no longer eligible

Eligible children may be covered through Dec. 31 of the year in which they reach age 26 without tax implications. Coverage for children who are full-time students or disabled can continue as long as they remain in that status.

If your child should be removed for plan year 2021, please complete your enrollment by un-checking them as a covered dependent in your enrollment event and submit your enrollment to University Benefits.

Please note: Your dependent will need to be removed from the following if currently covered:

  • Health and Dental Insurance
  • Voluntary Term Life Insurance for Dependents
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)

Read more about adding or removing a dependent

Need Help?

To help employees understand their benefits and plan benefits selections, the University Benefits Office will provide the following this fall:

  • Tips for picking a health insurance plan
  • Zoom Q&A's with a Benefits Specialist
  • How to Enroll informational video

You can find more information regarding tips and session dates and locations on our Need Help? page. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Premium rates are recommended to the university’s executive leadership by the Funded Retirement and Insurance Committee (FRIC), a presidential charter committee composed of faculty and staff. In making its recommendations, FRIC considers the inflation of health care costs, health care costs incurred by members from the previous year, previous and anticipated plan usage, market trends, and analyses provided by industry experts. In addition, the rise of health care costs is a nationwide trend.

Pay increases are determined by college and unit leadership in an annual budget process that considers overall funding, strategic goals, and employee performance. The national trend of declining state funding for public higher education has added pressure to collegiate and unit budgets.


UISelect Member will need to call Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa customer service to obtain the guest membership. The customer service number is listed on the back of your health insurance card or you may find contact information on Wellmark's website

The criteria for guest memberships is listed below:

  • Dependent children attending college:  Guest membership is available to a student/dependent of the policyholder who are out of the area for 90 or more consecutive days.
  • Long-term travelers:  Guest membership is available to a policyholder, spouse or other dependents who are way from the area in the U.S. for at least 90 consecutive days.* The member will be asked for their approximate date of return. 
    • Example: Used for long-term work assignments or a retiree with dual residence. 
    • Permanent address must be an Iowa address.
  • Families living apart:  Guest membership is available to a spouse or other dependents of the policyholder who do not reside in the area for 90 or more consecutive days. The policyholder is NOT eligible for this type of guest membership.
    • Example: Typically used when divorced or separated family members permanently reside outside of the area
  • COBRA:  COBRA guest membership is available to a policyholder, spouse or other dependents who obtain residence in another state. COBRA guest membership will remain in effect as long as COBRA is in effect or until the member returns to reside in Iowa, whichever comes first.

Medical services received by those on a Guest Membership will have coverage under Level 2 if services are received by a participating Blue Cross Blue Shield provider. 

*The guest membership program is not available for international services when traveling outside of the country. If you are an employee and are traveling internationally for university business purposes, than the CISI insurance will apply. 


Selena and her friends take a road trip to Chicago. While there, she comes down with a nasty cold and wants to see a doctor. Please see examples of provider-type options below and anticipated out-of-pocket expenses to the health plan member.

Type of Provider Cost of Visit UIChoice UISelect
Doctor on Demand $0 $0 $0
CVS Minute Clinic
(or other retail clinic option)
$99 ~$49.50
(Approximately 50% could be reimbursable under Level 3 for a non-participating provider.)
Urgent Care $220 $110
(50% would be covered under Level 3 for a participating BC/BS provider.)

UIChoice: When seeing a non-participating provider (including providers in Iowa), any coinsurance owed by Selena will go to the separate Level 3 medical out-of-pocket maximum (OPM) of $2,000. Selena does need to file her own claim with Wellmark to be reimbursed.

UISelect:  There is no Level 3 coverage except in the case of an emergency or through a guest membership. Any amount paid by Selena in the examples above would NOT go toward her deductible or out-of-pocket maximum (OPM).

Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA):  Any amount paid toward the health care examples above would be considered a qualified expense and reimbursable from a health care FSA. In the examples under UIChoice, the explanation of benefits from Wellmark will be required for processing. In the examples under UISelect, a copy of the itemized statement from the provider's office will be required for processing.


You will make benefits changes, if any, through Employee Self Service during the Open Enrollment period, which begins at 8 a.m. Oct. 22, 2020, and ends at 5 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2020. 

Changes and new rates go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.


If you do nothing during Open Enrollment, your current elections will continue to the next year with the exception of your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). If you have an FSA, you must re-enroll during the Open Enrollment period.


Open Enrollment is your annual opportunity to make changes, enroll in, or cancel such benefits. If you miss the Open Enrollment deadline of 5 p.m. Nov. 13, 2020, you will not be able to make any changes for 2021 unless you experience a qualifying event such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, divorce, death, etc. Learn more about changing your benefits outside the annual Open Enrollment period.