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Annual Enrollment for Plan Year 2013 will begin July 2 and end August 10. This year, enrollment takes place in phases, with all employees of the same agency having two weeks to make enrollment changes. This new phased Annual Enrollment will allow the Employees Retirement System (ERS) to provide better customer service. All employees in the same agency or institution will have the same enrollment period and the Personal Benefits Enrollment Statement you receive in the mail will indicate your two-week enrollment time. Personal Benefits Enrollment Statements will be sent out beginning in late June. ERS will also post an enrollment schedule at www.ers.state.tx.us. You should sign in only during your enrollment phase to make benefit changes for Plan Year 2013.
As always, plan members have several ways to make benefit changes, including logging into their online account at www.ers.state.tx.us, contacting their benefits coordinator, or calling ERS. ERS will host fairs and live webcasts from June 25 to July 13. Employees attending enrollment fairs will be able to compare HealthSelect and HMO benefits and learn about such benefits as Optional Term Life Insurance, TexFlex, and Texa$aver programs. Registration is not required to attend a fair or to access recorded presentations online.
ERS will also host a series of information sessions exclusively about the new third party administrator for HealthSelect. These sessions, where HealthSelect plan members will have a chance to meet with representatives from the new third party administrator, UnitedHealthcare, are planned for July 16 through August 10 throughout Texas. HealthSelect information sessions will also provide information about online accounts, the new HealthSelect Nurseline and disease management programs.
During enrollment, employees can also sign up for the Texas Legal Protection Plan (TLPP), a benefit designed to help make legal services available and affordable for state employees. Founded as a nonprofit corporation by the State Bar of Texas in 1972, TLPP offers legal insurance with no deductibles and no co-payments. Participation in the plan is voluntary.
Small annual increases in your Texa$aver contributions can mean a big difference when you retire. Consider celebrating your birthday each year by signing up for automatic increases of $20 or 1 percent more to your before-tax 401(K) Plan, 457 Plan or after-tax Roth contributions.
If you want to maximize your take-home pay and potential retirement savings, estimate your tax withholding as close as possible to your actual tax liability. Withhold too little and come April 15, you'll owe the IRS more money; withhold too much and you get a refund, which might sound good, but that's just money you weren't able to use during the time Uncle Sam had it. That refund check could have been earning interest in your Texa$aver account.
Your retirement income will probably come from several sources: Social Security, pensions, and income from retirement savings accounts, such as Texa$aver. With more and more workers planning to continue working after retirement, it becomes even more important to save for the future. Workers 49 and under can contribute up to $17,000 in combined before-tax and after-tax dollars, and workers over age 50 can contribute up to $22,500.
Beginning September 1, 2012, United HealthCare Services, Inc. will serve as the third party administrator for the HealthSelect of Texas plan, replacing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX).
On April 4, 2012 the ERS website updated the frequently asked questions regarding benefits, the Nurseline and case management for this healthcare contract:
Waste, fraud and abuse of state resources cost all taxpayers millions of dollars each year
The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to detecting, investigating and prosecuting reports of waste, fraud and abuse of state resources within all divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
If you have any information regarding waste, fraud or abuse of state benefits, equipment, personnel or funds, please contact the Office of the Inspector General, Crime Stoppers or the State Auditors Office toll free.