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Be a Wise Healthcare Consumer

Understanding Benefits Lingo: Do You Know the Difference Between Your Dependents and Your Beneficiaries?

When it comes to your insurance and your retirement accounts, you may not have given much thought to managing your dependent and beneficiary information. Many people think these two words mean the same thing. You might even think that everything to do with your dependents and your beneficiaries is automatically defined by and tracked by UT System.

Unfortunately, you will miss important steps if you don’t understand how these two groups are different. And not keeping your information up to date can cause unexpected problems. It could even leave your loved ones without the security and protection you expect them to have through the UT Benefits program, your retirement account(s) with TRS, or your accounts established under the Optional Retirement Program (ORP).

Basic Definitions

First, consider the basic definitions of these words and how they apply at UT System. Your dependent is a person who is eligible for coverage under your UT Benefits insurance plans, including the medical, dental, vision, and voluntary group term life coverage. For example, your child who is covered under the UT SELECT medical plan is a dependent. These people have access to insurance coverage for their own health and life.

On the other hand, your beneficiary is a person (or perhaps a trust or other entity) who will receive all or part of the financial benefits that are payable under your UT Benefits group term life or accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance if you pass away. Even if you haven’t elected any voluntary group term life or AD&D coverage, remember that all employees who are enrolled in the UT SELECT medical plan also have $20,000 in basic life and $20,000 AD&D coverage at no cost to the individual. Retirees enrolled in UT SELECT medical also have $6,000 in basic life coverage at no out-of-pocket cost.

You also have beneficiaries for your TRS or ORP accounts and for any voluntary retirement accounts that you have set up that need to be kept up to date through the specific providers who handle each account. The beneficiaries for each account may be the same or different people from those who are designated as beneficiaries for others, including your UT Benefits life and AD&D coverage.

Dependent Eligibility Criteria Will Be Changing Soon

Eligibility to participate in the UT Benefits program as a dependent is determined by applicable law. Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), the definition of eligible dependents will be expanding for most health insurance plans throughout the country. These changes will take effect with respect to the UT Benefits program with the 2011-2012 plan year, which begins on September 1.

Eligible dependents as of September 1, 2011 will include:


The upcoming Annual Enrollment period will be a good chance to review your dependents’ coverage. It’s especially important to check that each of the individuals you cover as a dependent under any of your UT Benefits insurance plans still meets the definition of an eligible dependent. For those who no longer qualify, you should cancel the coverage using My UT Benefits or by contacting your local Human Resources or Benefits Office for assistance.

Always Keep Your Beneficiary Designations Up to Date

Unlike dependent eligibility which is defined by applicable law, your beneficiary can be any person that you choose or a trust or other entity. You can designate more than one beneficiary and can have different beneficiaries listed for different insurance plans and/or retirement accounts. Common choices for beneficiaries include spouses, children, other family members, friends, charitable organizations, or trusts.

It’s important to designate beneficiaries for all of your insurance and retirement accounts that require them. If you don’t, state laws may cause death benefits to be distributed differently than you planned, may cause additional taxes, and may unnecessarily delay the process of finalizing payment to your loved ones. You should regularly review and, if necessary, update your beneficiary designations. A good time to do this is each year during Annual Enrollment and also following any significant life changes that may occur during the year.

If you are a participant the Optional Retirement Program (ORP), or the voluntary UTSaver Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) or UTSaver Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP), you should always be sure that a current beneficiary is on file for each of these retirement accounts. You can download the appropriate beneficiary designation form and return the completed form directly to your specific retirement provider.

New online tools available from BCBSTX

Blue Access Mobile Brings Convenient, Secure Access to your Mobile Phone.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has recently introduced a mobile phone web browser for members. From your mobile phone, you can now log in to your Blue Access® for Members account on the go. Blue Access Mobile is bringing convenience and secure access to your mobile phone. From your Web browser, you can:

You can also download a free Provider Finder® application (app) for your Android or iPhone. In addition to finding network providers when you are on the go, this app can perform a GPS search and get directions to the provider’s location.

And have you downloaded Microsoft Tag yet? Microsoft Tag is a new app for smartphones that give users additional information by simply scanning a tag that looks like this:
To download the app, go to Your smartphone camera will scan tags and take you directly to the tagged material, or as in the tag example here, to the Blue Access Mobile website.

It’s easier than ever to experience Blue Access Mobile. Just go to from your mobile phone web browser.  There is no registration required for access to the mobile site.  However, UT SELECT plan participants must enter their user name and password to log in to Blue Access for Members.