URBANA — Some limited weekend assistance will be available for those state employees and retirees who haven't yet completed their health insurance enrollment.
With the enrollment deadline extended to 5 p.m. Monday or a postmark by that date, Health Alliance Medical Plans will keep its customer service department open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, company spokeswoman Jane Hayes said.
Health Alliance has provided this number for callers: 800-851-3379.
"We are receiving many calls from state employees and retirees, and we want to make sure their calls get answered," she said.
Katie Ross, associate director of human resources administration at the University of Illinois, said many UI employees took the former deadline of 5 p.m. Friday "very seriously."
From the flurry of enrollments that took place Wednesday and Thursday, there are not many of the 25,000 benefit-eligible UI employees who remain to be enrolled, she said.
On those two days alone, there were 8,000 transactions entered into the employee benefits website, Ross said, and "we think half of our employees were waiting."
Those employees who waited and didn't make a benefits change earlier in the enrollment period don't have to do anything if they want to keep their current insurer under the 90-day emergency contracts the state scrambled to make available Wednesday and Thursday to provide health coverage for large numbers of state employees.
The emergency contracts with Health Alliance, HealthLink and PersonalCare are intended to provide coverage while a lawsuit filed by Health Alliance and Humana over longer-term health coverage contracts for state group plan members work their way through the courts.
The state and Humana weren't able to come to terms on a 90-day contract, and Hayes said Friday that Health Alliance planned to let state employees in the Bloomington and Peoria areas know they can have HMO coverage through Health Alliance and stay with their current medical providers.
"We have OSF providers in our network," she said.
Ross said the UI benefits staff will be working the weekend processing paper enrollment forms and the UI's self-service employee benefits website will be monitored throughout the weekend to make sure it's performing without problems.
Pam Butler, director of outreach at the State Universities Retirement System, said the SURS staff will be using the extended deadline — in part — to help its 480 participants on the two current Humana health plans expiring June 30 to make another selection.
The SURS office in Champaign won't be open over the weekend, she said, but the insurance staff will be working entering benefits changes, and then back in on Monday dealing with remaining questions on the final day.
Some confusion still remains for retirees because SURS is doing one thing differently, Butler said.
For any SURS participant, no enrollment is required to keep a current insurer whether a benefits choice change was made or not, because SURS says it has independently made the decision to default its annuitants to the carriers they had.
Only those SURS annuitants who want to make a change in insurers, or keep the change they made earlier in the enrollment process, need to act before the deadline.