SMU to use new pharmacy network in 2014

Benefits U logoImportant changes to SMU’s Health and Wellness Plan pharmacy network are coming in 2014 – “changes that should help the University group health plan and its faculty and staff members save more than $1 million on their prescriptions over the next three years,” says Jeff Strese, executive director of human resources.

Participating pharmacies have agreed to offer greater prescription discounts to remain in the SMU network, which serves all of the University’s medical plans. They include Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Target, Tom Thumb and Wal-Mart, as well as several independently owned stores.

CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will no longer be part of Express Scripts’ SMU network. If you have recently filled a prescription at a CVS or Walgreens, you will receive a letter from plan administrator Express Scripts providing the locations of three network pharmacies closest to the pharmacy last visited.

Express Scripts logoExpress Scripts has created a web portal,, that will allow faculty and staff members to compare prescription prices at more than 450 Dallas-Fort Worth area retailers. The site will be open during the University’s 2014 open-enrollment period, Oct. 12-31, 2013.

If you currently use CVS or Walgreens but want to take advantage of the new prescription discounts, you must transfer your prescriptions to a network pharmacy by Jan. 1, 2014. You can complete a transfer in one of three ways:

  • Take your prescription container to the new network pharmacy of your choice; they will contact your current pharmacy to transfer the prescription.
  • Call your new pharmacy and ask them to contact your current pharmacy for your prescription information.
  • Ask your doctor to call your new pharmacy with your prescription information.
  • Ask SMU’s Compass Health Pro, Jeremy Garrett, to do the work for you. He can research Express Scripts’ contracted rates at pharmacies near you after Jan. 1, when Express Scripts loads its online database of 2014 prescription pricing. Call after Jan. 1 with your Rx information at (800) 513-1667, ext. 726.

If you currently use a CVS or Walgreens pharmacy to fill prescriptions, you can continue to do so. However, you will pay the full retail cost without plan discounts, and the costs will not apply toward your medical plan deductible or out-of-pocket maximum.

After extensive analysis with Express Scripts, SMU’s Department of Human Resources learned that 99 percent of faculty and staff members currently filling prescriptions at a CVS or Walgreens pharmacy have access to an alternative network pharmacy within less than three miles of their current pharmacy location, says Sheri Starkey, director of total compensation and senior associate director of human resources.

“By asking some faculty and staff members to move to our new retail pharmacy network, all faculty and staff will benefit from the savings our plan will experience over the next three years,” she adds. “This change is one step we’re taking to ensure the continuation of a comprehensive and affordable benefit plan.”

The University’s mail-order prescription plan will remain unchanged.

More information on the new SMU pharmacy plan will be included in the 2014 open-enrollment packages, scheduled for delivery in early October 2013.

> Learn more about 2014 open enrollment at

SMU’s Fall 2013 flu shot clinics begin Sept. 25

Health and Wellness Day 2010 features a ‘Focus on Education’

Stock image of 'Good Health, This Way' freeway signA focus on smart choices in both health care and lifestyle is the organizing principle of SMU’s 2010 Health and Wellness Day Oct. 21. Faculty and staff members can learn more about the University’s health plans, take their annual flu shots, get chair massages and more during the fair, scheduled for 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center’s lower level.

The “Focus on Education” theme reflects a trend toward “more preventive care and better consumerism of medical benefits and health care in general,” says Lorea Belle Seidel, associate director of human resources.

This year’s schedule:

Faculty and staff members can sign up on site for free cholesterol and glucose screenings from Baylor’s Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, as well as for free skin cancer screenings from Consulting Dermatologic Specialists.

Massage therapists from SMU Recreational Sports will give free 10-minute chair massages with on-site signup.

In addition, Concentra will provide free health screenings to faculty and staff members who sign up in advance. Refer to the Concentra packet mailed to your home address or e-mail for more information.

> Learn more at the Health and Wellness Day homepage
> Visit SMU Human Resources online

HR: Health plan dependent verification is due May 3, 2010

Benefits U. logo Just a reminder: All individuals claiming a dependent for insurance purposes are required to provide supporting documentation of the relationship to the covered dependent. The deadline for sending in verification is May 3, 2010.

SMU has hired an outside firm, HR Advance, to conduct its dependent eligibility audit. Faculty and staff members should consult the instructions they received from HR Advance for their individual requirements.

Please send copies, not originals, of the requested documents (examples include marriage license, birth certificate and tax return documentation). HR Advance will destroy the copies after the documentation is verified.

Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code enables SMU to deduct premiums for your health coverage on a pre-tax basis. Withholding your deductions pre-tax reduces your taxable income at the end of the year.

Section 125 Plans require that certain rules and restrictions regarding eligible dependents be observed. Covering dependents that are not eligible is a violation of the Section 125 IRS Code as well as University policy; it also drives up costs across all SMU health plans.

Additional details on plan eligibility rules including required documentation are provided in the 2010 Benefits Guide, which became available during open enrollment last October.

SMU’s Department of Human Resources is working with outside consultants to determine the impact of the new federal health care reform legislation on the University’s insurance plans, says Sheri Starkey, director of total compensation. HR will provide more information as it becomes available.

Open Enrollment 2010: New rates and new services

Benefits U logoSMU’s 2010 Open Enrollment takes place Oct. 14-30, 2009. The Open Enrollment period is the only opportunity for SMU employees to make changes to benefits elections for the coming year, except for life event changes.

Some important information for 2010:

  • The Aetna HMO plan will no longer be offered as of 2010. Those who are currently enrolled in the HMO and wish to continue medical coverage under an SMU plan must select another option for the coming year.
  • The Employee + One category has been replaced with two new options: Employee + Spouse and Employee + Child(ren).
  • Medical premium costs will rise this year. However, many can avoid premium increases by selecting a higher deductible level or offset out-of-pocket expenses by participating in the Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) or the Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution limits will increase for 2010.
  • Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code enables SMU to deduct premiums for your health coverage on a pre-tax basis. As a result, SMU will undergo a dependent eligibility audit of University health plans during the first quarter of 2010. All individuals claiming a dependent for insurance purposes will be required to provide supporting documentation of the relationship to the covered dependent. Faculty and staff members will have the opportunity to drop non-eligible dependents from coverage during open enrollment, prior to the audit.
  • Under the SMU Health and Wellness Plan, mental health and substance abuse services will be covered at the same benefit level as physical health and illness.

This year, Human Resources is offering an enhanced and updated version of the Access.SMU Benefits Open Enrollment application introduced during 2009 open enrollment. The application gives faculty and staff members easy access to useful information to help make decisions on benefit options and plans.

Training in the Access.SMU open enrollment application will be available during Health and Wellness Day Oct. 22. In addition, Director of Total Compensation and Associate Director of Human Resources Sheri Starkey will offer an information session on choosing the right plan for your needs. Read more on 2009 Health and Wellness Day.

Who needs to make changes?

This year’s benefits changes will require many faculty and staff members to make an active election during open enrollment. For 2010 open enrollment, you must take action for the following conditions:

  • You want to make changes to your current coverage.
  • You want to add or drop dependents from coverage.
  • You are currently enrolled in the Aetna HMO, which will not be offered for 2010.
  • You are currently enrolled for Employee + One medical coverage.
  • You want to adjust your premium payments.
  • You want to participate in one or both of the Flexible Spending Accounts in 2010.
  • You want to make a contribution to the Health Savings Account (HSA) in 2010.

To take advantage of Online Open Enrollment at Access.SMU:

  • Enter your Access.SMU user ID and password as you normally would to review your pay statement.
  • Click Benefits Open Enrollment under Benefits on the right to access your personalized Open Enrollment record.
  • Be sure to read all instructions carefully before making elections for 2010.

Learn more under the link.

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Prevention, preparedness take priority during Health and Wellness Day

Stock art: 'Healthy Life, Next Exit'Programs, providers and preparedness – as well as a dose of prevention – will be features of SMU’s 2009 Health and Wellness Day Oct. 22. Faculty and staff members can visit with vendors, learn more about Access.SMU Open Enrollment, get a seasonal flu shot and more during the benefits fair, scheduled for 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center’s lower level.

Keynote speaker Marsha Upsom, founder of the Naturally Slim Healthy Weight Loss Program, will discuss “Simple Steps for Losing Weight, Gaining Health and Reducing the Sugar in Your Diet.” Other information sessions will include:

  • A comprehensive look at choosing a medical plan with Director of Total Compensation and Associate Director of Human Resources Sheri Starkey
  • An introduction to SMU’s new vision care provider, Vision Services Program (VSP)
  • A panel discussion on flu preparedness

In addition, Bayer Health Care, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and Consulting Dermatologic Specialists will offer information and free health screenings for the following:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar testing
  • Body fat testing
  • Body mass index
  • Breast cancer information
  • Diabetes information
  • Skin cancer screenings

Find more about 2009 Health and Wellness Day at the Human Resources website

Experts talk money in campus financial forum

SMU experts answered questions and gave their views on investing and saving for retirement during difficult times in “Market Volatility and Its Impact on You: Reassessing vs. Reacting in Response to Your Finances.” The Department of Human Resources presented the discussion Nov. 11, 2008 in the Collins Executive Education Center.

“Given the nature of market volatility, we thought it would be a marvelous idea to have this forum for our faculty, staff, retirees, and everyone else who has given their hearts, their souls, and their lives in dedication to this great university,” said moderator David Lei, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in SMU’s Cox School of Business. “This is an opportunity to get to know the current market environment and to bounce around a few ideas.”

The panel stressed the importance of individuals knowing their own risk tolerance and managing their investments accordingly. Participants included Distinguished Professor of Finance Andrew Chen and Caruth Chair in Finance Darius Miller of the Cox School, as well as Director of Total Compensation Sheri Starkey of Human Resources.

Lei left attendees with 5 financial questions to consider:

  • If you hold stocks, what will you do if the market takes another 30 percent dive?
  • What will you do if your bank or credit card company declares your existing credit balance as your limit?
  • If you hold a large amount of cash, what will you do if inflation rapidly escalates?
  • In a depressed real estate market, what will you do in the wake of a home insurance disaster in which you can recoup only replacement costs, rather than what you paid?
  • In terms of your savings, are you looking to grow rich or to avoid being poor?

Read more from the forum
Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Texas colleges are surviving the economic slowdown

Continue reading “Experts talk money in campus financial forum”