Take the [Wellness] Initiative to Save Money on Your Health Insurance in 2020
Did you participate in the Wellness Initiatives program last year?
If so, you are saving money this year on your health insurance (medical, prescription, dental, and vision) costs. Perhaps you are not benefitting from the rate reductions in 2019 but want to know how to receive them in 2020.
Whether or not you participated for 2019, if you are covered by a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)-provided medical insurance plan through CareFirst or Kaiser Permanente, you are eligible to participate in Wellness Initiatives and receive the rate reductions. You have until October 4, 2019, to meet the program requirements and reap the benefits in 2020. To maintain the rate deductions, you must participate in Wellness Initiatives each year.
There are three components to the Wellness Initiatives program: a biometric health screening, a health risk assessment, and a smoker (tobacco user) surcharge.
Biometric Health Screening
MCPS will pay an additional 1 percent of the total cost of your health insurance (medical, prescription, dental, and vision plans) in 2020—reducing your contribution by 1 percent—if you complete a biometric health screening of your blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol by October 4, 2019.* Your health screening may be completed by your primary care physician** or by attending one of your insurance plan’s screenings held in MCPS central office locations throughout the year. These screenings are sponsored by Well Aware, the MCPS wellness program. Learn more.
Health Risk Assessment
If you complete your medical insurance plan’s online health risk assessment by October 4, 2019,* you will reduce your contributions toward your health insurance by another 1 percent. To complete your yearly health risk assessment, visit your medical plan’s web page (CareFirst or Kaiser Permanente) and log in to your password-protected account. (You may need to create an account first.) Then, follow the on-screen instructions.
Smoker (Tobacco-user) Surcharge
MCPS imposes a 25 percent surcharge to the total health insurance cost of employees who are covered by an MCPS-provided medical plan with CareFirst or Kaiser Permanente if they or their covered spouses smoke or use other forms of tobacco. To avoid this surcharge, employees and their spouses need to be tobacco free for 12 consecutive months prior to each January 1 effective date and attest to being tobacco free during Employee Benefits Open Enrollment each fall.
During Open Enrollment, if you will be covered by an MCPS-provided medical plan on January 1 of the upcoming calendar year, you will need to attest to whether or not you and your spouse (if married) will be tobacco free throughout the current calendar year. If you do not attest or attest to you or your spouse NOT being tobacco free throughout the current calendar year, your contribution to your health insurance (medical, prescription, dental, and vision plans) will include a 25 percent surcharge on the total cost of the health insurance. In addition, if you falsely attest to you or your spouse being tobacco free throughout the current calendar year, you will be assessed a $2,500 penalty.
To make your tobacco-use attestation, during this fall’s Open Enrollment (October 7–November 1, 2019), sign on to the online Benefits Enrollment System via Employee Self-Service (ESS), and select the appropriate response on the tobacco-use attestation screen. If you are not making any changes to your benefits, you will be able to attest more quickly by using the stand-alone tobacco-use attestation screen. A link to this screen also will be available on ESS during Open Enrollment.
If you and/or your spouse use tobacco, consider quitting so you can stop paying the surcharge. Once you and your spouse have been tobacco free for any 12 consecutive months, you may re-attest on ESS to have the surcharge removed within two months.
To help you quit, attend a smoking-cessation class such as Quit for Good. Tobacco-users who complete the Quit for Good tobacco cessation program can have the 25 percent tobacco-user surcharge waived and, depending on when the program is completed, refunded. Learn more.
You will find a chart that outlines the steps necessary to receive the rate reductions and avoid the surcharge in 2020 in this issue of For Your Benefit. Further information is available on the Wellness Initiatives for Employees web page. There you will find helpful links to frequently asked questions; dates, times, and locations of Well Aware’s biometric health screenings; and instructions for finding out if you have received credit for your Wellness Initiatives participation.
*The time frame begins the first day of Employee Benefits Open Enrollment each fall and ends the Friday before the next Open Enrollment begins a year later.
** If you are a CareFirst BlueChoice plan member and choose to have your primary care physician conduct your health screening, you must ask your physician to complete and sign a CareFirst Health and Wellness Evaluation or Minute Clinic Health Screening form. You will find instructions for downloading and submitting the form on the Wellness Initiatives for Employees web page.