Stanford encourages employees to review and confirm 2020 medical plan coverage

Stanford is making some changes to its health plan offerings in 2020. Stanford is discontinuing the EPO health plan and adding a new affordable plan, Trio, to the lineup.  Stanford Healthcare Alliance members will need to designate a primary care provider.

It’s that time of year for employees to review their health benefits, including adding or dropping eligible dependents from coverage during Open Enrollment.

Stanford employees can change their health insurance benefits and add or drop dependents during Open Enrollment from Monday, Oct. 21, through Friday, Nov. 8. (Image credit: YinYang / Getty Images)

Open Enrollment begins Monday, Oct. 21, and extends through Friday, Nov. 8 (11:59 p.m. Pacific Time). Changes made to benefits take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

If employees choose not to act during Open Enrollment, their medical, dental and vision coverage will "rollover" and reflect the 2020 premiums, except current Aetna Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plan members who need to take action during Open Enrollment.

Each year, employees must re-enroll in the following plans: the Health Savings Account , the Health Care Flexible Spending Account and the Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account.

Employees must also accept grant awards from the Child Care Subsidy Grant Program through the My Benefits portal and reapply each year for the Medical Contribution Assistance Program.

University Human Resources provides extensive information - in printed materials, on its website, in a webinar and in Open Enrollment fairs and information sessions - so employees are able to review and confirm their health and life plans.

Employees who don’t review and confirm their health and life plans by Nov. 8 will have to wait until the next Open Enrollment period to make changes, unless they experience a qualifying event, such as marriage, adding a dependent or a change to their job status.

Open Enrollment is the only time employees can enroll for critical illness insurance and pre-paid legal services provided by MetLife. Coverage for employees already participating in the plans will automatically roll over in 2020 with no rate increase.

In 2020, employee contribution rates will increase slightly for employees who choose the Kaiser Permanent HMO medical plan and cover dependents, and it will remain free for employee-only coverage.

Employee contributions will increase for health care plans offered through Stanford Health Care Alliance and the ACA Basic High Deductible Health Plan. Premiums for the Healthcare + Savings Plan will decrease for employee-only coverage in 2020 and remain the same as this year for other coverage tiers.

What’s new in 2020

  • In 2020, Stanford will offer a new affordable plan, Trio, through Blue Shield of California. The Trio plan is available to all benefits-eligible employees and retirees under age 65 who live in the plan’s service area, including the following Bay Area counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Cruz and parts of Marin.
  • Stanford is doubling its contributions to employees who sign up for a Health Savings Account (HSA) to $600 for employee-only coverage or $1,200 for family coverage. The Internal Revenue Service has also increased the annual contribution limit for HSAs. Individual-only HSA limits will increase to up to $3,550 of pre-tax dollars, up from $3,500 this year. Family HSA limits will increase to $7,100 of pre-tax dollars, up from $7,000. HSAs can be used in conjunction with the Healthcare + Savings plan to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare costs like the deductible.
  • In 2020, California will recognize domestic partnerships as all couples consisting of any two people, regardless of gender, over 18-years-old and has dropped the age 62 requirement for opposite-sex partners. Benefits-eligible employees may enroll their previously ineligible partners and dependents during Open Enrollment, and will have until Jan. 31, 2020, to provide verification documentation for dependents. Partners can begin registering with the state on Jan. 1.

Among the key changes in 2020

  • Stanford is discontinuing the EPO health plan, due to concerns about the plan being an affordable health care offering for employees and for the university. Employees enrolled in the EPO will need to choose a new medical plan during Open Enrollment, otherwise, they will receive default coverage in the Healthcare + Savings Plan at their current coverage tier and 2020 rates.
  • Contribution limits for Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) will increase to $2,700 of pre-tax dollars, up from $2,650 in 2019. Employees must re-elect their FSA contribution each year.
  • Stanford has expanded eligibility for its Medical Contribution Assistance Program. If a family’s adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less, Stanford may help pay some or all of your employee contribution to your university-offered medical plan when you cover your spouse and/or your children. Information and the applications can be found on Cardinal at Work.
  • Employees enrolled in the Stanford Health Care Alliance plan must designate a primary care physician for 2020 during or after Open Enrollment.

How to learn more

Learn more about health care programs and new benefit offerings on the Cardinal at Work Open Enrollment website here.

Stanford Benefits has added a Zoom session at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, for anyone in the EPO who has questions about plan options for 2020 or about Open Enrollment in general. The session will be recorded for those who can’t make it to the live session.

Cardinal at Work will offer a WebEx webinar from 1 to 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21, followed by information sessions and enrollment fairs at various locations on campus and in Stanford Redwood City through Nov. 4. A full schedule can be found here.

During the hour-long information sessions, Stanford benefits experts will provide an overview of Stanford’s health plans, and details of what’s changing and what’s staying the same. Each meeting will include a brief Q&A session. (Plan providers do not attend information sessions.)

During the four enrollment fairs, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., free flu shots will be available. Representatives of plan providers, including the five companies offering health plans in 2020, as well as providers offering vision and dental care, will be available to answer questions.

Stanford BeWell - your employee wellness program

The Stanford BeWell Program , together with its campus partners , inspires Stanford community members to live healthier lifestyles.

In 2020, all benefits-eligible employees can earn up to $560 in a taxable incentive for completing the Stanford Health and Lifestyle Assessment (SHALA) and the following activities according to deadlines:

  • Wellness Profile ($200), which includes attending a screening session, discussing wellness concerns with a BeWell Coach and creating a brief action plan that identifies goals and strategies.
  • Engagement ($260), for which employees choose one of the following four options to further enhance their well-being: Coaching, Class, Commitment to Family or Community and Healthy Work Environment.
  • Berries ($100), which are six health-related activities of the employee’s choosing - including exercise classes, fitness assessments and workshops - that help put wellness goals into action.


Stanford BeWell is offering the maximum incentive to all benefits-eligible employees whether they elect to receive medical benefits from Stanford or another organization.

In addition to monetary incentives, participating benefits-eligible employees also receive perks, such as discounted fitness classes, free fitness assessments, free access to select Stanford Athletics games and free personal training sessions.

A spouse or registered domestic partner of a benefits-eligible employee can earn a $220 taxable incentive if they complete the Wellness Profile and the employee meets program requirements and is employed by Stanford University at the time of payout (February 2021).


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