April 2014 > Benefits Management Series: Mid-Year Changes

Be a Wise Health Care Consumer

Benefits Management Series: Making Mid-Year Changes to Your UT Benefits

In Part 1 of the Benefits Management Series on making mid-year changes to your benefits, the focus was on adding a child to your benefits. In part two of the series, we shift our focus to adding a spouse to your coverage following marriage, and removing a spouse following a qualified change of status event such as divorce.

Part 2 – Family Matters: Adding Coverage for Your Spouse

There are a whole range of emotions that can go along with getting married. Anyone who has ever been involved in planning a wedding can confirm that these events are almost unmatched in terms of how much thought and consideration goes into preparing for the big day. By the time it gets here, the marriage certificate is in hand, checklists have been double and triple-checked, and you’ve probably scheduled some vacation time from work. On the other hand, if you opt for a more reserved approach, perhaps choosing to file a Declaration of Informal Marriage (often referred to as a common law marriage) or having a small, private ceremony, you might just be focused on continuing your existing day-to-day routines and may not immediately think about adjusting your benefits.

What kinds of changes might you easily overlook if you’ve been particularly focused on making one day especially memorable or if you choose to skip the fanfare and simply continue living your daily life with few changes? Either way, your first thought once your marriage becomes official might not be about adding your new spouse to your UT SELECT Medical plan and other insurance coverage.

What Do You Need to Know?

To add your new spouse to coverage following your marriage, the first key to ensuring a smooth transition has to do with timing – you have 31 days from the date of the qualifying change of status event (date of marriage, for example) to notify your institution HR or Benefits Office and request changes to your UT Benefits consistent with that event.

If you do not make changes during the 31 days after a status change, your changes cannot be made until the next Annual Enrollment in July, and will not be effective until the following September 1. This means that if your new spouse doesn’t have his or her own insurance, they'll need to find an individual insurance policy for themselves if they want to have medical coverage until the new plan year begins.

What Will You Need?

To add a new spouse to your UT Benefits insurance coverage, you'll need to contact your institution HR or Benefits Office to make the request and provide appropriate documentation. A marriage license is not considered to be valid documentation because it is issued prior to the marriage and does not contain documentation that the marriage was completed. As part of the process, you'll need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate (or your filed Declaration of Informal Marriage) to establish your relationship and document that your spouse is eligible for coverage. If you are adding step-children along with a new spouse, don't forget that you will need additional documentation for the children.

How Do You Change Your Coverage Following a Divorce?

Marriage often starts out with high hopes, but sometimes the unexpected happens. Following a divorce, your ex-spouse is no longer eligible to remain on your UT Benefits coverage and must be removed. The initiation of divorce proceedings is not a qualifying change of status under federal rules and regulations. Your signed final divorce decree will be needed in order to document the qualifying change. Within 31 days of the divorce becoming final, you should contact your HR or Benefits Office to notify them of the need to update your insurance elections.

When making any changes to your UT Benefits as a result of marriage or divorce, knowing where to go to make your request, understanding the timing, and meeting the documentation requirements are the three key things to keep in mind. If you have any questions about the documentation necessary or the overall process of making these types of changes to your insurance coverage, you should contact your institution HR or Benefits Office.

Please check back next month for Part 3 – Family Matters: Adding or Dropping Coverage After a Change in Employment Status.