Evaluate your benefits selections to make sure they meet the needs of you and your family. This overview is designed to highlight the options available to you. Additional information is available in the benefits section of the Human Resources website or from the Human Resource Information Center (HRIC) at (919) 684-5600.

What changes can I make? Whose health insurance policy should cover me and my new dependents?

Getting married allows an employee who is otherwise eligible, but not enrolled for coverage, to enroll for the first time (and can also enroll a spouse and any new dependents, if they are otherwise eligible under the plan). You can increase your coverage to cover your dependent(s), drop coverage at Duke if you are choosing coverage under a non-Duke health plan, or change your plan, i.e. change from Duke Basic to Duke Select.

In choosing whose health insurance plan will cover you and your new dependents, you may wish to consider the following options:

  • Adding your spouse and/or stepchild(ren) to your policy; or
  • Canceling your Duke policy to enroll under your spouse's plan; or
  • Having two health insurance plans; or
  • Maintaining separate policies.

Beyond comparing premium and other cost differences, consider:

  • The differences in services offered
  • How deductibles and copayments, including those for prescriptions, compare with the Duke policy
  • Whether you or your spouse's current physician is participating in either plan
  • Whether the non-Duke policy provides for well-child care and routine immunizations
  • Decide if duplicate coverage is worth the extra cost. Not all insurers have the same coordination of benefits rules. You should investigate these rules before deciding on duplicate coverage.

What proof of marriage will I need to provide?

A copy of your marriage certificate must accompany your change request.

When can I add my spouse and/or stepchildren to my health, dental and vision insurance?

If you decide to add your spouse and/or stepchildren to your Duke plans, enrollment must occur within 30 days of the date of your marriage. If adding eligible family members to your policy changes your coverage from an individual plan to a family plan, your premiums will increase. Rates are available on the Health Benefits website. You can elect to begin coverage on the date of your marriage, or the first of the month following the date of your marriage.

I know my medical expenses or day care expenses will be increasing because of my marriage. What are my options?

You should consider enrolling or changing your deduction for your Duke reimbursement accounts. Since account contributions are made with before-tax dollars, reimbursement accounts provide ways to reduce your taxable income. The amounts credited to your account are reimbursed to you when you submit a claim for a qualified expense. The change in your reimbursement account status or enrollment in the program must be made within 30 days of the family status change. Forms are available here.

The reimbursement account contribution amount can only be changed if there is a subsequent change in family circumstances. Additionally, any amount greater than $500 left in the account at the end of the plan year is forfeited. For these reasons, you may want to be conservative in estimating your anticipated expenses. 

Do I need to increase the amount of my life insurance for coverage?

Employees with young families and with high long term debt, such as a mortgage, may need more life insurance to provide financial security for surviving family members than employees with grown children and less long term debt. If you divide the amount of your current life insurance coverage by your take-home pay, you will know how many pay periods your present level of earnings would continue to support your household. If this figure is not sufficient in dollar amount or duration to support your household, you may wish to increase the amount of your life insurance coverage.

If you determine that you need to increase your coverage, there are a number of life insurance options available. For example, with Personal Accident (AD&D) Insurance you can purchase a high coverage amount at a low cost, but benefits will only be paid in the event of accidental death. You can also purchase Supplemental Life Insurance which will provide benefits in the event of death from illness and natural causes. The premiums are higher for Supplemental Life Insurance than AD&D. For more information, please see the Life Insurance web site.

How do I change my life insurance beneficiary(ies)?

For the Personal Accident Insurance (AD&D) and/or the Basic Life Insurance plan, see the Forms page for beneficiary change forms. You will need to contact the specific life insurance provider for beneficiary changes under other insurance plans. Additionally, you may want to consider obtaining legal counsel if you will be establishing or amending a trust fund or will.

What about the beneficiary(ies) designations for my retirement plans?

Beneficiary designations for your 403(b) retirement account are important. When making your beneficiary designation, specify primary and contingent beneficiaries and the benefit allocation to each. If you are married and die before beginning to receive your 403(b) benefits, then according to federal law, your named spouse is entitled to 50% of your retirement account balance in the form of a pre-retirement survivor annuity. This rule applies unless a "Waiver of Pre-retirement Survivor Annuity" election has previously been made by your spouse. You may change your beneficiary under the 403(b) Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan by contacting Benefits and/or sending a written request directly to your investment carrier(s).

Does my spouse and/or stepchild(ren) have educational benefits?

While there are currently no educational benefits for spouses, stepchildren are eligible for the tuition grant program if you are otherwise eligible for the benefit, e.g. are a full time employee, have at least five consecutive years of full time service in an eligible division at Duke.

What other insurance plan changes do I need to consider?

Existing group Long Term Care insurance certificate holders will continue to be covered under the terms of their Prudential group LTC certificates, which are guaranteed renewable. To add your spouse, contact Prudential Customer Service: 1-800-732-0416, available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST). If you would like to add your spouse to your Personal Casualty Insurance (METPAY) policy, contact Mercer Voluntary Benefits.

Disability insurance can replace a portion of your income if you are unable to work because of injury or illness. This can be critical to your family's financial security. If you do not already have disability coverage, consider the Voluntary Short Term or Voluntary Long Term Disability program options available.

What about updating my personal information on record?

You’ll need to contact your supervisor or departmental payroll representative to make any required changes to your name or home address in the HR/Payroll system by submitting a personal data change iForm. When the iForm is processed, your personal information will be updated for your health, dental, vision and reimbursement account plans. To update any other benefit programs (e,g, reimbursement accounts, 403(b) retirement plan, life insurance, disability, etc.), please use the Contact Information to notify the benefit vendor directly.

The "life event series" overview is intended to highlight some of the benefit options to be considered due to a change in family status. It is not designed to substitute for an official plan document. If there is a conflict between this web site and the official plan documents, the official plan documents will govern in all cases. Duke reserves the right to change or terminate these plans or your eligibility for benefits under the plans at any time.