Frequently Asked Questions about Open Enrollment


General Information

Open Enrollment is the period each year when benefits-eligible employees and retirees may update or change their benefit elections for medical, dental, or vision insurance; flexible spending and health savings accounts; short-term disability; and life insurance. This is the one time during the year when you may make changes without experiencing a qualified life event (that is, change in family situation, such as marriage or birth of a child).

Outside of Open Enrollment (Oct. 19 – Nov. 6, 2020), you can only make changes to your elections if you experience a qualified life event such as marriage, divorce, or birth of a child. Changes are not permitted for any other reason during the calendar year.

This year you must renew all the benefits you want to continue. You may change your voluntary benefit plan elections, add or remove benefits, remove or add dependents, and increase or decrease supplemental life insurance.

You may not change your mandatory retirement plan election (Arizona State Retirement System or Optional Retirement Plan), although at any time you may elect to participate in the Voluntary 403(b) Plan or the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan to increase your retirement savings. Click here for more information on these voluntary supplemental retirement plans.

All selections made during Open Enrollment will be effective on January 1, 2021.

The Division of Human Resources sends all communications to your official UArizona email address. Please make sure your correct email address is listed in UAccess so that we will be able to reach you with information on Open Enrollment and news regarding your benefits. We also suggest you verify your mailing address is correct in the system.

Yes. Because of the medical plan changes, all employees must re-enroll in all benefits except their mandatory retirement plan. If you do not take action, all your voluntary benefits will end on December 31, 2020.

Yes. You must complete open enrollment before December 31, 2020. If Open Enrollment is still available in UAccess Employee, please complete your enrollment for 2021 benefits online in UAccess by 5:00 p.m. on November 6. 

If Open Enrollment has closed, please contact the Division of Human Resources at 520-621-3660 or for assistance with completing a paper enrollment for 2021.

It may depend on the plan you elect. 

  • With ADOA’s Securian plan, you elect a flat amount of coverage and that amount cannot exceed three times your salary. During Benefits Open Enrollment, the salary used to determine your maximum amount of coverage will be your reduced salary. When the pay reductions end, you will not be able to increase your life insurance benefit with Securian because you elected a flat amount, and a pay change is not considered a qualifying life event. 
  • With the University’s Hartford (formerly Aetna) plan, you can elect 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 times your salary as coverage. Therefore, because this is not a flat amount, your life insurance benefit will automatically adjust with the higher salary when the pay reductions end.

You may enroll in both supplemental life insurance plans. Electing some coverage under the Hartford plan can make up for any lost benefit under the Securian plan that resulted from the pay reductions.

Information About Benefits Plans & ID Cards

To view your benefits, visit UAccess and select Employee/Manager Self Service. Log in with your UA NetID and password. Make sure you are on the UA Employee Main Home Page (you can select this from the drop-down menu at the top of the page). Select the University Benefits tile to see your current enrollments.

The state of Arizona and the Division of Human Resources will cohost two benefits webinars on October 19, 2020. Look for email invitations. 

The Division of Human Resources can answer questions, provide additional information, and assist with navigating our website and UAccess. Please email or phone 520-621-3660 for assistance.

Yes, all employees will receive new ID cards through the mail before January. Remember to present your new card when you visit your healthcare providers in 2021.

About the 2021 Medical Plan Changes

The Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) provides medical coverage to state employees and manages any changes made to those plans. State agencies are required to go to bid for contracts every 5 years, and this year ADOA was required to do so for the medical plans.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, ADOA began working with benefits consulting firms to gather information from providers and determine healthcare trends. The goal of this process was to determine the best way to control medical costs, provide quality care, and limit the impact to employees. The Triple Choice Plan (TCP) came out of that process as a way to encourage members to select healthcare providers who have good health outcomes at a reasonable cost.

These changes were unrelated to the current pandemic.

There are no changes to the dental plans or supplemental life plans (except that Aetna is now The Hartford). There are minimal changes to vision and the flexible spending account plans, and these changes result in increased benefits.

The University's contribution toward the TCP is increasing by approximately 5% when compared to the current employer premium contributions for the EPO plan.

The medical plans are self-insured, which means that employees, retirees, and state employers pay into the plan to cover the costs of medical claims. As medical costs increase year-over-year, ADOA must find ways to cover these costs, such as increasing employee and employer premiums, increasing deductibles, or other means. As an example of cost increases, costs for prescription drugs per member increased by 8.7% in 2019 over 2018. This amounts to a net cost increase to the state of $6 million for only one category of healthcare.

UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona have expansive provider networks. The Aetna and Cigna networks are not as accessible outside of metro areas.

Prescriptions do not count toward the deductible if you are enrolled in the Triple Choice Plan.  You always pay a fixed copay. If you are enrolled in the High Deductible Health Plan, prescriptions that are not considered preventive medications do count toward the deductible. To determine which prescriptions are preventative, review the preliminary drug formulary.

Your new insurance carrier (UnitedHealthcare or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona) will receive information from your current insurance carrier (Aetna or Cigna) after Open Enrollment if you are undergoing treatment. Your new carrier will contact you in December to coordinate treatment plans and facilitate continuity of service if necessary.

The ADOA performed network analyses looking at various data points. For example, how many Tier 1 providers by county, or how many Tier 1 primary care providers within a specific radius.

Tier 1 providers must meet specific quality and efficiency metrics related to good health outcomes – that is, they demonstrate they provide good value for your healthcare dollars and follow established treatment protocols. These metrics are reviewed regularly to determine if designations need adjustments, and a provider may be added to Tier 1 at any time.

One option would be to switch to Tier 1 providers. However, if you wish to maintain your relationships with your current providers, you may want to consider the High Deductible Health Plan with Health Savings Account, which does not have different tiers for in-network providers. There are other costs to consider, so please review all information about both plans carefully.

In order to ensure that employees have access to their closest hospital, both UHC and BCBS have agreed that all Arizona hospitals will be in Tier 1.

All services received at Campus Health will be considered Tier 1 under Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare.

With the exception of Campus Health providers, each doctor in a practice will have their own tier designation. Always check your provider’s tier status with the network prior to obtaining services.

With Blue Cross Blue Shield, there are no Tier 1 providers outside of Arizona, and therefore, all in-network providers in other states will be Tier 2.  United Healthcare does have Tier 1 providers outside of Arizona.  Check the UHC provider directory for Tier 1 providers in your state.

The Tier 1 deductible applies to Tier 2 and vice versa.  For example, once you meet the Tier 1 deductible of $200 single/$400 family, you will only pay copays for any Tier 1 provider you visit. If during the year, you visit a Tier 2 provider, the $200/$400 deductible you've already paid will count towards the higher Tier 2 deductible of $1,000 single/$2,000 family. You will pay toward that higher deductible each time you visit a Tier 2 provider, but your Tier 1 provider visits will continue to require only copays. If you use doctors in both tiers, the most you will pay toward your deductible is $1,000 individual/$2,000 family.

With the TCP, once a single family member meets the single deductible, that family member begins paying copayments for visits. The remaining amount of the family deductible may be met by any combination of the other family members before they will begin paying copayments.

With the HDHP, any combination of family members must meet the deductible before coinsurance begins.  

Yes, you are always encouraged to confirm the website information with your provider directly.

With Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare, the following in-network providers and facilities will always be included under Tier 1:

  • Telehealth Services/Virtual Visit providers including: Doctor on Demand, Amwell, Teladoc and BlueCare Anywhere
  • Chiropractors
  • Behavioral Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Services
  • Ambulance Services
  • Urgent Care
  • Emergency Room
  • General Acute Care Hospitals in Arizona
  • Surgery Services which require the use of a Centers of Excellence (UHC) or BlueDistinction Specialty Care (BCBSAZ)

Yes. However, if a provider moves from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in the middle of the year, the Tier 1 designation will be honored for the remainder of the calendar year.

You cannot have a regular healthcare FSA and an HSA simultaneously. You have two options that will prevent you from losing your funds:

  • Spend down your healthcare FSA to $0 by December 31, 2020.
  • If you cannot spend your entire balance, elect the Limited Purpose FSA during Open Enrollment. You will be able to roll over up to $550 from your healthcare FSA to the limited purpose FSA. Then, during 2021, you can use those funds for dental or vision care expenses only.

The hearts are a guide to the quality and cost-effectiveness of a provider. They only appear on the high-deductible health plan provider search. The HDHP plan does not have tiers, so your deductible is the same whichever provider you pick.

Two blue hearts = the provider meets criteria for both quality of care and cost-effectiveness of care. These providers may cost you less money.

One blue heart = the provider meets criteria for quality of care but not cost-effectiveness

Two outlined hearts = either the physician’s specialty is not evaluated in the UnitedHealth Premium program or there are not yet sufficient claims data to provide a rating

Two gray hearts = The provider does not meet the UnitedHealth Premium program quality criteria

Find out more on UHC's website.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona network offers all providers in the Mayo system in Tier 1 for the TCP Plan. Similarly, all providers in the Mayo system are in-network on the HDHP Plan. The Mayo Clinic Health System is composed of multi-specialty community clinics, physicians, durable medical equipment suppliers, general acute care hospital, and transplant facility.

United Healthcare evaluates physicians individually and not generally by practice or group. If you are already seeing a physician there, the best thing to do is to search that physician by name. If you are interested in utilizing Mayo physicians as a new patient, contact Mayo Clinic directly to determine if they are accepting new patients and the name of the physician who is available for you. To bring up a general search for Mayo Clinic physicians, enter their zip code - either 85054 (Phoenix) or 85259 (Scottsdale) - and a specialty. The following providers at Mayo Clinic are considered Tier 1 under the Triple Choice Plan: Mayo Hospital; oncologists; Mayo Clinic lab, radiology, durable medical equipment, and rehabilitation services.

Under the High Deductible Health Plan, all BUMG physicians are in-network with both Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare.

Under the Triple Choice Plan, all BUMG physicians are Tier 1 with Blue Cross Blue Shield. With UnitedHealthcare, BUMG physicians may be Tier 1 or Tier 2. Please check the United Healthcare provider directory to determine if your BUMG physician is Tier 1 or Tier 2.

Medical, Dental, & Vision Plans

The Delta Dental PPO Plan allows you to see any licensed dentist; however, the cost is lower for in-network dentists. You pay a percentage of the cost for services. The annual maximum benefit for a plan year is $2,000 per person.

The Cigna Dental Care Access HMO requires you to select a primary in-network dentist. In-network dentists are not available in the following states/locations: Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, US Virgin Islands, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. You pay fixed copays for services. There is no annual maximum benefit for the plan year.

In order to take full advantage of your vision insurance, you will want to stay in the Avesis network; however, Avesis does offer reimbursement for qualifying expenses at non-network providers.

No. The TCP is one plan. You pay one premium and can choose healthcare providers in any of the three tiers. 

Your overall healthcare expenses will be lower if you choose only Tier 1 providers.

A copay is a fixed amount you pay at the time of service. You pay the same amount regardless of the amount the provider charges your insurance company.

With coinsurance, you pay a percentage of the amount the provider bills. 50% coinsurance means you pay half of the bill. Your cost depends on the provider's charges.

The state of Arizona will open an account for you with Optum Bank. The employer contributions to your HSA and any additional contributions you make in 2021 will be directed to this account.

You may need to activate your account and confirm your identity with Optum Bank. Watch for mailings from them.

You will have an opportunity after the new year to transfer your account from PayFlex to Optum at no cost to you. You may choose to keep your existing account at Payflex but it will transition to a personal account with a $5 monthly service fee. There will also be a $25 charge if you decide to transfer your account at a later time.

You will receive more information on your options in February.

To be eligible to contribute to an HSA you cannot be enrolled in Medicare or Tricare, cannot have a healthcare reimbursement account, and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return.

The lower negotiated rate is used for determining your coinsurance. The negotiated rate is also used to determine how much would apply to your deductible. 

Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts versus Health Savings Accounts

Both an HSA and an FSA allow employees with health insurance to set aside money for certain healthcare costs referred to as "qualified expenses." These include deductibles, copayments and coinsurance, and monthly prescription costs.

An HSA is only available to employees enrolled in the HDHP medical plan.

                                 Health Savings Account (HSA) Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Eligibility Requirements To be eligible, you must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). There are no eligibility requirements. However, if you are in the HDHP, you can only have a limited healthcare FSA for dental and vision expenses.
Contribution Limit For 2021, contributions are capped at $3,600 for individuals or $7,200 for families if employee is under age 55. Limits are $1,000 higher over age 55. (This includes both your contributions and the University's combined.) For 2021, contributions are capped at $2,750.
Changing Contribution Amounts You can change how much you contribute to the account at any point during the year. You can adjust your contribution amount only during Open Enrollment or with a change in employment or family status.
Rollover Unused balances roll over indefinitely, and you can invest the funds, so you can save for retirement medical expenses. You can roll over only $550 to the next plan year. You forfeit any unused balance above that amount.
Connection to Employer Your HSA can follow you as you change employment. You can then use the money to pay for healthcare expenses in retirement. If you leave UArizona employment, you can only claim reimbursements for expenses incurred before your separation date. You can continue your FSA through COBRA. 
Effect on Taxes Contributions are deducted from your paycheck pretax. Growth and distributions are tax-free. Contributions are pretax, and distributions are tax-free.
UArizona Contribution The employer contribution per month is $60 for employee only or $120 for two or more people insured. There is no employer contribution toward the healthcare FSA.


For 2021, the healthcare FSA individual maximum is $2,750.

If you are enrolled in the HDHP for your medical plan, you may enroll in the limited healthcare FSA and the dependent-care FSA. You are not eligible for the regular healthcare FSA because you have a health savings account. The limited healthcare FSA can be used only for dental and vision expenses.

You can use your HSA or healthcare FSA to pay for a wide range of IRS-qualified medical expenses for yourself, your spouse, or your tax dependents. Generally, an IRS-qualified medical expense is limited to healthcare services, equipment, or medications as defined under Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. These include medical (doctor visits, laboratory tests, medical equipment, hospital services), dental (non-cosmetic dental treatments), vision (eye doctor appointments and vision correction materials); and prescription (prescriptions plus any prescribed over-the-counter medications) expenses.

Purchases merely beneficial to general health or for cosmetic reasons are not qualified (such as cosmetic surgery, deodorant, fitness programs, teeth whitening). 

You can find information on qualified medical expenses in IRS Publication 502.

A chart qualified medical and dependent care expenses is on the ASI Flex website.


Employee only: $60 per month
2 or more insured: $120 per month

No. There will not be a contribution on the third payday of a month, so contributions to the Health Savings Account will occur only on 24 paydays throughout the year. Academic year employees will see the University’s summer contributions deducted from their spring semester paychecks, but those contributions will not be deposited into their Health Savings Accounts until summer.

2021 Annual Max Contributions Allowed by IRS (Employee & Employer) Monthly Max Employee Contribution (Annual Max – Employer Contribution / 12) Employer Contribution
  Under age 55 Age 55 and older Under age 55 Age 55 and older Per month
Single $3,600.00 $4,600.00 $240.00 $323.33 $60.00
Family $7,200.00 $8,200.00 $480.00 $563.33 $120.00


The limited healthcare FSA is an option for employees enrolled in the HDHP with Health Savings Account plan. It can be used to pay for qualified dental and vision expenses only. Contact the Arizona Department of Administration at 800-304-3687 for more detail on what services are eligible.

You will automatically be provided with one debit card and can request a second at no cost. You will be charged $5.00 each if you request additional cards.

Dependent-Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

You can use the dependent care flexible spending account to pay for child-care or adult dependent care expenses that are necessary to allow you or your spouse to work or attend school full-time. You can also use it while you or your spouse look for work. However, you cannot use it if you or your spouse are not employed or actively seeking employment and have no earned income for the year.

You cannot use the dependent-care FSA to pay for medical care for your dependents.

  1. Your dependent child who was under age 13 when the care was provided, of whom you have custody for more than 50% of the year, and whom you can claim as an exemption on your federal income tax return; or
  2. Your dependent (child older than age 13, spouse, parent, or other family member for whom you have custodial responsibility) who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself or herself, shares the same residence with you, and has income less than the federal exemption amount.

$5,000 if you are married and filing a joint return or if you are a single parent; $2,500 if you are married but filing separately.

No. Only the healthcare FSA has a $550 carryover into the following calendar year.

For 2020 and 2021 only ABOR has added a grace period to the dependent care FSA. You can use your 2020 funds for childcare expenses incurred through March 15, 2021, rather than December 31, 2020. You can use your 2021 funds for childcare expenses incurred through March 15, 2022, rather than December 31, 2021. After March 15 of each year, you forfeit all unused dependent-care funds.

This temporary change is intended to support employees whose care expenses changed unexpectedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retirement and Long-Term Disability Plans

No. Your initial election for your mandatory retirement plan (Arizona State Retirement System or Optional Retirement Plan) is irrevocable. You cannot make changes during Open Enrollment.

All University of Arizona employees are eligible to participate in the Voluntary 403(b) Plan and the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan. Both plans are designed to help you save more for retirement beyond the required 401(a) contribution. You may open one of these plans or change your contribution rate at any time by contacting Fidelity Investments or TIAA for the 403(b), or Nationwide for the 457(b). Both plans offer traditional pretax and post-tax (Roth) options. Learn more here.

No. The LTD coverage is an automatic component of your retirement plan. It cannot be changed during Open Enrollment. 

Short-Term Disability Plans

Monthly cost

  • Unum: $0.77 per $100 of salary
  • MetLife: $0.316 per $100 of salary

To calculate your premium, click here.

Note that there are important differences between the MetLife and Unum options.

  • Unum Pays 70% of your base weekly earnings up to $2,000 per week; MetLife pays 66.66% of your base pay up to a maximum of $897.43 per week.
  • Unum benefits are not offset by any other payments, such as sick or vacation leave; MetLife benefits are offset: You cannot receive full benefits while you are using paid sick or vacation time.
  • Unum benefits begin on the first day for outpatient surgery or if hospitalized for 24 hours; MetLife has a 30-day waiting period for illness but not for accidents.
  • Pregnancy benefits: Unum is 6 weeks for vaginal birth, 8 weeks for C-section; MetLife pays only from the 31st day to 42nd day for a vaginal birth and to the 56th day for a C-section.
  • Unum has a pre-existing condition exclusion for the first 6 months of coverage (pregnancy is not a pre-existing condition). If you do not enroll in the MetLife plan as a new hire, there is a 60-day waiting period for benefits, and there are no pregnancy benefits during the first 12 months following election during Open Enrollment.

For a comprehensive comparison of the two plans, click here.