University expands benefits for 2016

In preparation for the benefits enrollment period that begins Oct. 14, the university has announced several changes to its health and medical policies and offerings, including a series of adjustments driven by the recommendations of a task force charged with ensuring fair and equal support of the university's LGBT community.

Following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland, university President Ronald J. Daniels charged the task force with examining benefits coverage for same-sex domestic partners of university employees. Charlene Moore Hayes, vice president for human resources, appointed the group of faculty and staff members, and they examined evolving laws—including recent landmark Supreme Court decisions—and best practices at peer institutions.

When it completed its work, the group offered a set of broader recommendations, which have been adopted in full by the university.

For 2016:

  • The university will continue the existing policy allowing enrollment of a same-sex domestic partner.

  • In addition, employees will be able to enroll an opposite-sex domestic partner in JHU benefits.

  • Transgender benefits coverage will be available through university medical plans.

  • The adoption assistance benefit will increase from $2,500 per family to $5,000 per family for a single child and reach up to $10,000 for multiple adoptions at a single time.

  • The task force also supported the elimination of a two-year waiting period for fertility coverage. That change was made in January 2014.

"Johns Hopkins University is deeply committed to strengthening and sustaining an inclusive and diverse university community," Daniels said in a message to university employees. "The university adopted the task force recommendations, understanding that they provide a critical support for our faculty and staff, make our university even more family friendly, and help us continue to attract and retain the best and brightest to Johns Hopkins."

According to Human Resources, there are no changes this year to plan deductibles, copays, or coinsurance, which remain in line with benchmarks. Items that are new for 2016 include rate increases that reflect rising health care costs, the addition of new preventive screening for certain at-risk children and adults, removal of the pre-existing condition limitation for the short-term disability plan, and an increase in the limit on Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts to $2,550 annually. Details on these changes are available on the benefits enrollment website.

Employees will receive more information about 2016 benefits elections in the coming weeks. Benefits fairs are being held this week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6 in East Baltimore's Turner Concourse and on Oct. 8 in Homewood's Glass Pavilion.

Also new this year, each employee enrolled in a 403(b) plan must log in and make an active election once the Retirement Choice period opens beginning Oct. 14.

A series of town hall meetings regarding both enrollment and retirement choices are scheduled in October.

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