Penn Faculty Benefits News

Penn Faculty Benefits News: April 25, 2018

It's Benefits Open Enrollment Time

Woman with laptop on stepsIs it time to reconsider which Penn benefits plan is best for you and your family? If you need to make a change, you can during Penn’s Benefits Open Enrollment, your annual opportunity to update your healthcare elections. Now through May 4, faculty and staff can make changes to their coverage.

This Open Enrollment season, there will be no increase in medical rates for the 2018-2019 plan year. Rates will remain flat, so if you stay with the same medical plan, the costs will not go up. There are other favorable plan changes for the upcoming plan year to consider when reviewing your benefits needs. For a full list of the 2018-2019 plan changes, visit the Open Enrollment website.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

How to Enroll

You can make changes to your benefits coverage online at Penn’s secure Benefits Enrollment website through Friday, May 4. You will need your PennKey and password to access the site.

If you prefer to enroll by phone, contact the Penn Benefits Center at 1-888-PENN-BEN (1-888-736-6236), Monday through Friday, between 8am and 6pm, and Saturday, between 8am and 5pm (Eastern).

Making Changes

Some of the changes you may need to make during Open Enrollment include:

  • Enrolling in a healthcare plan for the first time, or dropping an existing plan.
  • Switching to a different medical, dental, or vision plan.
  • Increasing or decreasing your life insurance coverage.
  • Changing how much you contribute to a flexible spending account.
  • Adding or dropping a dependent from your benefits coverage.*

*If you add a new dependent, you’ll receive a letter requesting that you provide verification of that dependent’s eligibility under Penn’s plan rules. You’ll also need to provide verification if you re-enroll a spouse who had previously been covered.

If You Don’t Make Changes

If you don’t make changes during Open Enrollment, you will receive the same coverage you had last year.

If You Waive Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, if you waive your University coverage, you are still responsible for obtaining coverage through some other source. For example, you can obtain coverage through a spouse’s plan, your parent’s plan (if you are under age 26), or via the Health Insurance Marketplace.

When Changes are Effective

Changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective as of July 1, 2018. New rates for all plans will be reflected in your July 2018 paycheck.

Your contributions for medical, dental, vision, and flexible spending accounts are made with pre-tax dollars. You pay for employee and dependent life insurance with after-tax dollars. All contributions are taken from your paycheck in the month for which your benefits are effective. Your pay must support your contributions for the benefits elected.

Making Changes after Open Enrollment

The choices you make during Benefits Open Enrollment will remain in effect through June 30, 2019, unless you experience a qualifying event. Qualifying events include the birth or adoption of a child, marriage, divorce or separation, death of a dependent, and change in your dependent’s eligibility for benefits. Keep in mind that the IRS limits the types of changes you can make for qualifying events.

If you experience a qualifying event, please contact the Penn Benefits Center within 30 days at 1-888-PENN-BEN (1-888-736-6236), Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm, and Saturday 8am-5pm (Eastern).

Learn More

You can learn more about Open Enrollment and your benefits options from these resources:

  • Review the Open Enrollment materials delivered to your home address.
  • Visit where you can access 2018-2019 rates and the 2018-2019 Benefits Enrollment Guide.
  • Contact the Penn Benefits Center at 1-888-PENN-BEN (1-888-736-6236), Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm, and Saturday, 8am-5pm (Eastern).
  • Email Human Resources at

Let Health Advocate Be Your Guide

Dad eating glasses on phone with daughter in background

    Sometimes even an expert can use a guide, especially when you’re managing the complexities of healthcare. Fortunately, benefits-eligible Penn faculty and staff have access to Health Advocate.

    Whether you need to find an in-network doctor, locate help for your parent, or sort through a medical bill, Health Advocate has the right experts to guide you through almost any kind of healthcare and insurance-related issue. Penn offers this service at no cost to you. It’s completely confidential, and you can use it as many times as needed.

    How it Works

    Call the toll free number at 1-866-799-2329 or email Health Advocate at Your assigned Personal Health Advocate will provide prompt support.

    Highly trained Personal Health Advocates, typically registered nurses supported by benefits and claims specialists, will handle your issue. With your written permission, these experts do the legwork, make the calls, handle the paperwork and follow up with you every step of the way — all to save you time, money and worry.

    Your Personal Health Advocate can:

    • Answer questions about a medical condition, from simple to complex
    • Research the latest treatment options
    • Find the right in-network doctors and make appointments
    • Coordinate second opinions and transfer medical records
    • Resolve medical insurance claims and billing issues

    Who is covered?

    Health Advocate is available to eligible employees, their spouses or domestic partners, dependent children, parents and parents-in-law.

    Online Access

    To register for Health Advocate online visit, then:

    • Click "Register Now"
    • Select your username, password and security questions
    • Verify through email
    • Once you’ve registered, you can log on.  

    You can also use the Health Advocate mobile app to get a Personal Health Advocate in the palm of your hand. Instantly see, learn, and interact with your Health Advocate programs, no matter where you are. The Health Advocate app is available for Android and Apple devices from preferred app sources such as Google Play and the iTunes App Store.

    The Health Advocate app provides you with 24/7 live support from a Personal Health Advocate. You can also conveniently upload relevant documents, and access trusted information on any health topic, and much more. 

    Peace of Mind in a Busy Season

    Bee with flowers

    Spring is a busy time of year on campus and throughout the community. As you manage work and home activities during this lively season, Penn is committed to supporting behavioral health for you and your family.

    The University provides behavioral health benefits that are integrated into each of Penn’s medical plans for faculty, staff, and enrolled dependents.

    Through Penn’s behavioral health benefits, faculty and staff can maximize mental health and substance abuse treatment benefits by using in-network providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, therapists, or other clinicians.

    Penn’s behavioral health benefits allow for a range of treatment options from individual and family counseling to substance abuse programs and inpatient behavioral health treatment facilities. Specific coverage depends on your medical plan:

     PennCare/Personal Choice PPO 
     Coverage provided through Penn Behavioral Health, 1-888-321-5533

     Aetna Choice POS II
     Coverage provided through Penn Behavioral Health, 1-888-321-5533

     Keystone/AmeriHealth HMO
     Coverage provided through Magellan Health Services, 1-800-688-1911

     Aetna High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA)
     Coverage provided through Aetna's behavioral health network, 1-800-424-4047

    For more information about Penn’s medical plans, visit the Health, Life, and FSA website.  

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