Human Resources

Open Enrollment


Welcome to the Open Enrollment Resource Guide for 2017!

In this guide, you will find everything you need related to Open Enrollment for 2017. See the tabs below for information about new 2017 benefits program offerings, employee informational meetings, the enrollment process, and the Benefits Fair.

Important Open Enrollment Notes:

  • Open Enrollment begins Tuesday, November 1 and ends Wednesday, November 30.
  • The Open Enrollment Benefits Fair will take place on Thursday, Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bordy Theatre
  • Benefit changes you make during Open Enrollment will be effective on January 1, 2017.
  • Enrollment will be done online, unless you are newly enrolling, adding or dropping dependents from your medical or dental coverage (in which case, you will enroll on paper). To enroll online, see "Open Enrollment Online Enrollment Process" tab below. If you are enrolling via paper, use the 2017 Benefits Open Enrollment Form.  
  • If you wish to participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for 2017, you must actively enroll during Open Enrollment. Current elections do not carry over into the new year.
  • After reviewing the information below, if you have any questions about Open Enrollment, please email the HR Service Center or call 617-824-8580.

Emerson Medical and Dental Plan Rates for 2017

Based on good dental claims experience during 2016, there will be no increase in dental insurance premiums for 2017.

Emerson's medical insurance rates for 2017 will increase 6.2%. As a self-insured plan, Emerson's premium increases reflect the direct claims experience for medical and prescription drug benefits provided to our employees, spouses and covered dependents under the plans. 

Medical cost increases trended at 5.9% for 2015 within New England and are estimated to trend at 8.8% for 2016. A large contributor to these costs increases has been the escalating costs for prescription drugs, which is estimated to trend at 18% in New England for 2016. (Source for cost increase data: Marsh and McLennan Agency).

While Emerson's costs have increased over the past year, we have slightly better medical and prescription drug claims experience than what is being seen regionally, which is why our increases for 2017 are below the New England averages.

See links below for the 2017 Medical and Dental employee contribution rates. If you have any questions concerning the dental or medical contribution rates, please contact the HR Service Center (HR_Service_Center@emerson.edu or 617-824-8580).

Please join us in the Bordy Theatre from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Thurday, November 3 to visit with our vendors and learn about our program offerings for 2017. We are excited to announce the theme for this year’s benefits fair: Pathways to Health and Wellness! The focus of the fair is to help you navigate your way toward better health and wellness by making more informed choices related to healthy eating, low impact exercise, mindfulness, and meditation.

Live Demonstrations and Presentations
During the fair, make sure to participate in new events and returning favorites, including:

  • “Eat This, Not That!” Come join us to have some samples of healthy foods that are better choices than their alternatives.
  • We will be introducing two new programs associated with helping employees to relax and find work life balance: Journey Meditation and meQuilibrium.  Come visit our account representatives for these new programs to learn how they can be used to manage stress and enhance productivity, mindfulness and relaxation.
  • Yes, we will be having Chair Massages! Four massage therapists from Harvard Pilgrim will be available for 15 minute chair massages during the fair. Please e-mail Tricia Kennedy to reserve a time (please be prompt when arriving for your massage time).
  • Take a break with a chair yoga session from Blossom Yoga. These sessions will be held every half hour for approximately 10 minutes. No reservations are required for these sessions.
  • Visit the Harvard Pilgrim and WageWorks tables to learn about the new High-Deductible Medical Plan with Health Savings Account;  Doctor on Demand, a new Harvard Pilgrim program which allows for doctor’s visits over the web, and the College’s enhanced  Fitness Benefit Reimbursement Plan.
  • Visit OptumRx to learn about the vendor for the College's new prescription drug plan.
  • And learn more about additional Wellness​ at Emerson opportunities available through the end of the year.

Benefits Fair Prizes*
There will be three raffle prizes for participants who attend the Benefits Fair:

First Prize:

  • $200 Apple Store or Windows Store Gift Card
  • T-Fal Opti-Grill
  • Eat This, Not That Cookbook

Second Prize:

  • $100 Apple Store or Windows Store Gift Card
  • T-Fal Opti-Grill
  • Eat This, Not That Cookbook

Third Prize:

  • T-Fal Opti-Grill
  • Eat This, Not That Cookbook

*All prizes are subject to IRS rules on reporting of income. The prize winners must provide their name and EID information to accept their prize. Tax gross-ups will not be provided associated with these prizes. These drawings will be held during the week of November 14th and will be announced by Friday, November 18.

We look forward to seeing you at the Benefits Fair!   

See below for a list of informational employee meetings regarding the new medical plan, new prescription benefit, and the "lunch and learn" sessions where you can come with any Open Enrollment questions. All meetings take place in the Human Resources Training Room at 20 Park Plaza, 13th floor, unless noted below. We look forward to seeing you. 

To register to attend a meeting, please email Tricia Kennedy.

New High Deductible PPO Plan with HSA Informational Meetings:

  • Tuesday, November 15, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. (lunch will be served)
  • Tuesday, November 15, 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Monday, November 21, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. (lunch will be served)
  • Monday, November 21, 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

New OptumRx Prescription Plan Informational Meeting:

  • Monday, November 14, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Please note, this meeting will be held in the Human Resources Conference Room, 20 Park Plaza, 13th floor

Open Enrollment "Lunch and Learn" Sessions:

  • Thursday, November 10, 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 17, 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 22, 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 29, 12 to 1 p.m.

meQuilibrium Orientation Sessions:

  • The dates for these sessions will be announced by mid-November and will be updated on this site when available.

Peter Owens, Director of Compensation and Benefits, will be on site in LA on Monday, November 7 at 12 noon to review the new programs for 2017 and the open enrollment process. Benefits eligible faculty and staff are encouraged to attend this meeting.  

Open Enrollment begins Tuesday, November 1, 2016 and concludes on Wednesday, November 30, 2016.  Benefits eligible staff and faculty may elect changes in coverage for the 2017 plan year. Go to eCommon to enroll online (click on the Employee tab, and then click on the Open Enrollment link).

For detailed instructions regarding online enrollment, see Open Enrollment - Online Enrollment.

Important Information for Completing Your Enrollment During This Year’s Process!!!

Please note that as you process your enrollments, you will receive a notification from the system on the status of your input. The response will be EITHER

  1. Thank you for using Employee Self Service for your Open Enrollment Changes.  You have successfully made the changes to your enrollment status.  These changes will take effect January 1, 2017.  Please contact the Human Resources at extension 8580 with any questions or concerns and you will be directed appropriately, OR
  2. Thank you for using Employee Self Service for your Open Enrollment Changes.  You have initiated changes in the system, but you have not saved the changes to your enrollment status.  Please return to the system and click the “complete” button to save the changes.  Once you have done this you will receive confirmation that you have successfully saved your changes.  These changes will take effect January 1, 2017.  Please contact Human Resources at extension 8580 with any questions or concerns and you will be directed appropriately.  
  • Please be aware that your enrollment changes are not complete unless you receive the note saying that you have successfully made the changes to your enrollment status.  If you do not receive this message, please make sure that you return to the system to complete your enrollment!
  • Please note that the November 30, 2016 deadline for medical, dental and flexible spending account changes is a firm deadline.  Changes following the closing of Open Enrollment (November 30) will not be accepted unless there is a qualifying event(s) as determined by federal regulations.  Some examples of qualifying events include; birth or adoption of a child, marriage, or loss of coverage under another plan (if you have questions about qualifying events, please contact Human Resources at extension 8580 and you will be directed appropriately). 

Guidelines for this year’s enrollment cycle are as follows:

  • Staff and faculty members who participate in health care and/or dependent care flexible spending program(s) must make new elections to continue their participation in 2017.
  • REMINDER:  It is important that benefits eligible faculty and staff confirm or update their beneficiaries via the self-service module in eCommon.
  • REMINDER:  Please make certain that you ENTER AN EFFECTIVE DATE OF JANUARY 1, 2017 (1/1/2017) for any changes in coverage.
  • REMINDER: If you are newly enrolling, adding or dropping dependents to/from your medical or dental coverage, please complete the 2017 Benefits Open Enrollment Form and return it to Human Resources. This form is used to collect medical/dental dependent coverage information only.  All other election changes must be made online.
  • If staff members or faculty are not making any changes to their benefit elections, and not enrolling with a Flexible Spending account for 2017, no action is required. 

New Programs for 2017
Please note that there are several new programs available for this year’s process. For program overviews, enrollment requirements, resources and tools, please see the tab above on New Benefit Programs for 2017.

Flexible Spending Account Limits for 2017
The Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) annual maximum is increasing to $2600 for 2017 (applies to FSA and Limited Purpose FSA). The limit for the Dependent Care FSA remains at $5000.

403(b) Contribution Limits for 2017
There are no changes to the IRS annual voluntary contribution limit of $18,000 and the annual catch up contribution limit for eligible participants over age 50 of $6,000 for 2017. For participants over age 50, the combined elective deferral limit for 2016 remains $24,000 annually. The combined contributions limit (includes elective and non-elective deferrals and company matching contributions) remains $53,000 annually. Additionally, the Section 457 plan limit remains at $18,000 for eligible participants.

Changes to Social Security Wage Base for 2017
The Social Security wage base for 2017 is increasing to $127,200.

Social Security Wage Base for 2017

  • The Social Security wage base is increasing to $127,200.
  • Flexible Spending Account Limits for 2017
  • The Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) annual maximum is increasing to $2,600 (applies to FSAs and Limited Purpose FSAs). 
  • The limit for the Dependent Care FSA remains at $5,000.

HSA Limit for 2017

  • The individual HSA limit (total for employer and employee contributions) is $3,400.
  • The family HSA limit (total for employer and employee contributions) is $6,750.

403(b) and 457 Contribution Limits for 2017

  • There IRS annual voluntary contribution limit remains at $18,000 and the annual catch up contribution limit for eligible participants over age 50 remains at of $6,000.
  • For participants over age 50, the combined elective deferral limit for 2016 remains $24,000 annually.
  • The combined contributions limit (includes elective and non-elective deferrals and company matching contributions) remains $54,000 annually.
  • The Section 457 plan limit remains at $18,000 for eligible participants.

Select the link below for required annual health insurance notices.

Annual Health Insurance Notices