Getting Ready for Open Enrollment 2021


Open Enrollment is right around the corner and it is a great time to review your benefits. How often did you go to the dentist this past year? Are you filling maintenance prescriptions that might be cheaper through mail order? Did you complete your two-step wellness program incentive tasks? These are questions to consider when thinking about next year’s benefit elections.

IMPORTANT: All Open Enrollment meetings will be virtual this year!

System Benefits Administration will conduct virtual open enrollment meetings by Webex throughout the month of July. A calendar is posted on the Open Enrollment website and below with information on how to attend your virtual Open Enrollment meeting. Please save this information so you are ready to either call in or log into your meeting by computer.

Here are plan updates for September 1:

  • The employee premium for full-time employees will remain the same for the 6th year in a row! Part-time employee premiums are increasing slightly. Retiree and Grad Plan rates will reduce slightly. Premium sheets for all plans can be found on the Open Enrollment website on June 15th.
  • Delta Dental premiums will remain the same for both the HMO and PPO plans. Night-guards are being added to coverage under the PPO plan.
  • The telemedicine services provided by physicians and specialists during the pandemic will continue to be available and covered by the medical plans. You can utilize these services from an offering physician for the standard copay amount. MDLIVE will continue to have a $10 copay.
  • The Grad Plan telemedicine provider is changing from MDLive to AHP Live Care. There will no longer be a copay to use this service if enrolled in the Grad Plan.
  • Preventive dental cleanings and preventive eye examinations are being added as eligible tasks on the MyEvive Two-Step Personalized checklist. Dental cleaning includes scaling and root planing. Completing one of these tasks in FY21 will count towards your two-step credit in FY22 if you are enrolled in the A&M Care plan!
  • The Healthcare Flexible Spending Account maximum will remain $2,750. However, the extended grace period set by the COVID-19 Relief Bill is in effect for FY21. Read more here. It is important to remember that you must re-enroll in an FSA every year.
  • Retirees enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan through Express Scripts can now take advantage of a broader pharmacy network for 90-day prescriptions. You will have the option to fill acute, maintenance, and specialty medication prescriptions through 63,000+ retail pharmacies, as well as through home delivery from the Express Scripts® Pharmacy or Accredo® Specialty Pharmacy. This includes all major chains such as Walgreens and CVS, with the exception of Publix. Maintenance medications can be filled for up to 90 day supplies at any pharmacy in the Broad Performance Medicare Network. To find out more information or to locate a pharmacy, contact Express Scripts Medicare customer service at 1-855-895-4647.
  • Employees enrolled in the Prescription Drug plan through Express Scripts can now take advantage of the Smart90 network. Within this network, you can switch your 30-day supply of daily medication to a 90-day supply and have it delivered to your home by Express Scripts Pharmacy or at a participating retail pharmacy. If the cost of a medication at a retail pharmacy is lower than your plan’s retail copayment or coinsurance, you will not pay more than the retail pharmacy’s cash price, regardless of the number of times you purchase the prescription. In some cases, this price may be less than either your standard retail or mail copayment or coinsurance, so it may save you money. If your doctor prescribes you a daily medication or if you’re already taking one, ask for a 90-day prescription to participate—or visit today. The Smart90 network does not include CVS Pharmacies, and is restricted to 90-day refills. All other prescription drug fills can be claimed at any in-network pharmacy. Contact Express Scripts customer service at 1-866-544-6970 to locate a pharmacy or find out more information.

A full description of your coverage and exclusions for each plan can be found in the plan’s Summary Plan Description booklet, available on the Open Enrollment website on June 15th.

Open Enrollment Webinar Series

This summer, stay tuned for a full webinar series on all of your optional benefit programs! Beginning June 15th and running through September 15th, join a webinar almost every week. Don’t forget to register! All programs are subject to eligibility requirements such as plan participation and status.


  • MDLive – June 8th at 11:00 AM
  • MyEvive – June 15th at 11:00 AM
  • Omada Health – June 24th at 11:00 AM
  • Airrosti – July 13th at 11:00 AM
  • ComPsych Guidance Resources – July 27th at 11:00 AM
  • Ovia Health – August 3rd at 11:00 AM
  • WonDr Health – August 10th at 11:00 AM
  • Hinge Health – August 17th at 11:00 AM
  • Livongo – August 24th at 11:00 AM
  • Well onTarget – September 7th at 11:00 AM

Featured Retirement Plan Provider: Voya

The A&M System has six retirement plan providers to choose from to further invest in your future. Each Benefit Briefs issue, we will feature a retirement vendor. This month’s feature is Voya.

Voya has a variety of investment options on their TAMUS website – Find out more about their offerings or use their resource center to estimate your retirement income today.

Featured Retirement Plan Provider: TIAA

The A&M System has 6 retirement plan providers to choose from to further invest in your future. Each Benefit Briefs issue, we will feature a retirement vendor. This month’s feature is TIAA.

TIAA has options for Tax Deferred and Roth accounts available on their TAMUS website – Find out more about their offerings and their various retirement plans.

Join their webinar about saving for your ideal retirement. Find out how retirement savings, planning and the real benefit of time are essential features of retirement investments.

When: February 17 at 2 p.m. (CST)
Subject: Tomorrow in Focus: Saving for your ideal retirement
Register: Https://

TDA/DCP Contribution Limits for 2021

The maximum contribution limit for participants under the Tax-Deferred Account Program (TDA) and the Texa$aver 457 Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) will remain $19,500 in 2021 for each plan. The catch-up contribution limit for each plan for participants who are 50 years of age and older will remain at $6,500.

A chart listing the calendar-year contribution limits through 2021 is available on the Retirement Programs website here.

Survivor Benefits for TRS

It’s never pleasant to think about our mortality, but TRS members can take comfort knowing that their designated survivors will be provided with benefits. This video takes a look at the two types of death benefits – retiree survivor benefits and active member death benefits.

To view more videos in this series, visit the TRS Member Education Videos page on the TRS website

4 Steps to Spending Your Stimulus Check Wisely

4 Steps to Spending Your Stimulus Check Wisely

Most Americans don’t have an emergency fund. While we’re all experiencing this pandemic very differently — some having only minor inconveniences and others finding themselves without a job or having to close their business — those without a savings cushion are vulnerable to feeling the ramifications of COVID-19 for a very long time.
There will be tough financial decisions to make once you receive your stimulus check. Here are active steps you can take, along with things to consider to help you develop a solid spending plan.

1. Make a list of all expenses

Write out every single expense that you have, including essentials like food and utilities. Be sure to go through your checking and savings account history to make sure you don’t have any “vampire” expenses, like monthly subscriptions that you may have forgotten about and no longer need.

2. Talk to all creditors and lenders

The CARES Act puts into effect two mortgage relief provisions: protection from foreclosure, and a right to forbearance (pausing or making partial payments) for those experiencing loss of income due to COVID-19. However, the provisions are not automatic and are only for federal loans, so you MUST talk to your lender.

If a creditor/lender offers you a payment plan or other relief, make sure you get it in writing and take note of the names and dates of the customer service representatives with whom you speak.

Thankfully, some utility companies have announced they won’t cut off services if they aren’t being paid. Be sure you know all of your utility and service providers’ stance on this, so there are no surprises. You don’t want to make any assumptions.

3. Prioritize expenses

Expenses relating to food, shelter, and medicine should come first. This would include mortgage, rent, utilities, groceries, diapers, and medications. It also includes medical insurance premiums and homeowners/renter’s insurance.

If you need childcare to work, that is another essential expense. Next in line are auto-related expenses, including transportation, gas, insurance premiums, and car payments.

Loans that are secured by collateral (for example, mortgages and auto loans) are generally considered more important than those without collateral, like consumer credit card debt. For example, if you don’t pay your mortgage, a bank can foreclose on your property; if you don’t pay your car loan, the bank can seize your car. While not paying your credit card bills will negatively affect your credit score, credit card companies will not come into your house and take your personal possessions.

Federal student loans are currently not accruing interest until September 30, 2020, and can be put into forbearance so that no payments are due. If you have a private or institutional loan, you will have to contact the lender for other options.

Remember, if you can afford the minimum payments on your credit cards, then make those payments. It will help to maintain your credit score.

Expenses for “elective” items, like gym memberships, streaming services, and other subscriptions, come last. Before simply canceling a contract, make sure to contact the vendor – canceling may come with a hefty penalty, but you may be able to temporarily “pause” the service.

4. Pay your debts in the order of priority.

Now that you know all your expenses, have prioritized them, and know your payment options with creditors and lenders, it’s time to make the payments in order of priority.

It’s important to note that many are still receiving their tax refunds now, too. If you receive a refund, you can apply the same process to that extra income.

If you are still unsure or are overwhelmed with where to start, use our decision tree for guidance on what to do with your stimulus check and tax refund.