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Minutes

May 6th, 2010

  • Location: Human Resources - Conference Room
  • Time: 9:00 am
  • Present: Kerstin Cardenas (Ex-Officio), Andrea Zunkel (Ex-Officio), Cliff Clark, Linda Mueller, Sandy Pieri, Austin Robinson-Coolidge, Mike Tompos (Chair), Greg Hewitt
  • Absent: None
  • Guests: None
  • Secretary: Andrea M. Zunkel
  • Keywords: Benefits Committee Minutes, Benfits Committee Meetings

Discussion Topics

Review of Health Care Reform:

A pamphlet of information regarding upcoming changes that are impacted by Health Care Reform was shared with the group.  The pamphlet provided a time line on some general information over the next several years’ time. 

Changes that have an immediate impact were reviewed.  They include:

Providing tax free group health insurance to dependent children up to age 26. 
For those employees with non-tax adult dependents, this means that their participation in insurance premiums will be tax-free (included within the pre-tax health deduction); however, with respect to the corresponding imputed income, state taxation on the employer portion of the coverage will carry forth.  Federal taxation has been removed with this law.  It is unclear at present when (or if) the State of Minnesota will follow suite and remove the state taxation. 

Since our current plans have coverage for adult dependents up to age 25, we are unable to implement the change for coverage for adult dependents up to age 26 unless we decide to make a plan change with our health care vendors.  Effective for the plan year after September 23, 2010, the new law will allow for adult dependents up to the age of 26 (regardless of their student or marital status).  For Carleton, this means that the plan effective date will be January 1, 2011. 

Employers must provide a secure and private area to an employee to express breast milk
The room may not be a bathroom.  We have requested that Facilities assign one designated room on campus.  The room must have running water and provide confidential use.  We hope to have this available soon.

Other noteworthy upcoming health care reform issues were reviewed with the group including:

  • Effective January 1, 2011, there will be no cap on preventive care.  (We currently carry two plans that “cap” preventive care at $500.00/year for employees and their dependents.
  • Group health plans in effect as of March 23, 2010 are considered grandfathered plans; however, our plan renewal (1/1/11) would dictate new plans.
  • Over-the-counter medication can no longer be reimbursed or covered tax free through an FSA, HRA or HSA without a prescription beginning January 1, 2011 (regardless of the plan year).  For Carleton, we will be sharing this information and advising that purchase of over-the-counter medications must be purchased by December 31, 2010; no grace period will be allowed for this specific item.
  • Employers must include the value of employer-provided health coverage on employees’ W-2s for the 2011 tax year (applies to the W-2s prepared in 2012 for the 2011 tax year).
  • Medical FSAs will be capped at no more than $2500 effective January 1, 2013.
  • Effective in 2018, employers could be charged a tax on “Cadillac” health plans (40% on the premium).  For us, we will be required to keep a close eye on this, as with annual premium increases incurred between now and then, we could potentially fall into this category.

Following brief review, all were cautioned that many things can change or impact the health care reform specifics.  We’ll all be watching things closely, but for now, in order to educate our community on the health care reform, Human Resources will be placing information on the ir website and will update as things change.

Review of Budget Committee Meeting:

The committee reviewed highlights from the Budget Committee meeting.  Thought was given to  some possible follow-up by our committee including:

  • Polling employees on their benefit options, salary vs. benefits (including potential tax implications, interest in programs offering healthy lifestyle or smoking cessation incentives, interest in lower plan premiums for those with no weight control issues or that do not smoke, etc.
  • Mike feels that providing education on the objectives and work processes of the Benefits Committee, as well as more frequent contact with the Budget Committee may be in order.  Perhaps an invitation to a member from the Budget Committee to join our meetings, particularly during benefit review and implementation times, as well as more frequent, informal  meetings to relay current work or meeting minute highlights would be beneficial.  
  • Cliff shared that with members’ terms of service in these different committees that lack of continuity, historical and quality information can suffer.  We are fortunate that our current committee’s members have been active for a great share of time and we are much the better for this. 

Status of the Draft Changes to the Current Vacation Policy:

Kerstin shared that the draft vacation policy has been approved at all levels of authorization. 

An ITS representative is currently working on testing the accrual set ups in Colleague during the month of June; we are still hopeful that implementation of the policy will be July 1, 2010.  Community announcement and education will be shared as soon as confirmation on successful testing verification is complete.

Rice County Health Workplace Initiative:

Carleton College is participating in the Rice County Healthy Workplace Initiative.  Representatives include Kerstin Cardenas and Mikki Showers.  The emphasis of this group is to provide a healthy/wellness culture and environment.  Kerstin shared that we are really in the planning stages over this first year.  Since the College currently does not have a formed committee to address wellness, she suggested and received support from the group to include wellness initiatives and programs under the Benefit Committee goals. 

There are mini grants available through the State of Minnesota that we will attempt to take advantage of.  In addition, plans are to form a Farmer’s Market option at Carleton as one of their first initiatives.

Vendor Issues Update:

Andrea and Kerstin updated the committee on issues encountered with some vendors (Optum Health and Select Account) over the first quarter of this year.  The problems were reviewed with the group; areas of concern have been directly addressed with the vendors and the necessary corrective actions have been completed. 

It was noted that working with these vendors has resulted in a high level of administrative effort.  Human Resources will continue to monitor them very closely.

Goals for 2011 Benefit Package:

Kerstin indicated that it is time to begin the process of reviewing our goals for consideration of our 2011 benefits.  Mike shared that his suggestion would be to provide the simplest/easiest approach to benefit selections for our employees.

Following discussion, it was derived that it would be advantageous for the group to have a review from AFG on a number of things so that we are better prepared to move forward with options.  Items for suggested review are:

  • HRAs (employer owned) vs. HSAs (employee owned)
  • Fully-insured plans vs. self-insured plans
  • High deductible plan options
  • Voluntary, low-cost, employee optional benefits


The committee will also be preparing to review how benefit changes can impact costs or savings, potential risks involved, and a comparison of how these changes can affect the College’s long-range budget (he suggested utilizing prior years as examples).

It was also recommended that we learn more (e.g. status of implementation, location of new facility, etc.) about the potential changes for the Wellness Center.  Even though the project fhas been placed on hold for at least 5 years (due to budget issues), the Benefits Committee  may possibly have input on how this project could impact future benefits for the College. 

Interest in going to market for other vendor coverage, particularly for medical insurance was discussed.  The group will defer this decision to a later date.  Our population seems to feel comfortable with The Blues and our concern would be that, if we secure another vendor, we’d likely receive great rates to begin with but future risks in yearly rate increases would be of large concern.

The group's emphasis will be to have early involvement and study regarding potential 2011 benefit changes and then to provide earlier communication to our community regarding our benefits package for 2011.  However, we truly do not have adequate supportive numbers/rate increase information available any sooner than what has been provided in the past.  Projections may assist us somewhat; however, true numbers are not available much earlier than what we have experienced in past years.

Committee members are to research potential voluntary employee benefits and share their feedback on possible options for consideration.  Previous interest in long-term care and short-term disability has been noted; a voluntary vision care plan that provides lowered costs for eye wear, as well as a plan for hearing aids was also suggested. We will ask AFG to present some ideas for voluntary employee benefits.

TIAA-CREF Investment Opportunities:

There are many investment opportunities through TIAA-CREF that perhaps Carleton College may wish to consider making available to our population.  The latest change to our defined contribution plan included the Life Cycle plans; however, this may be something that could be reviewed in conjunction with the Investment Committee (which involves the Benefits Committee, Fred Rogers, and Jason Matz).  There may be possibility of a meeting in the fall on this.