July 2005
  • Quote of the Month
    • "Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?" --George Bernard Shaw

Annual Enrollment is Now Open and Accessible from HRConnect

Annual Enrollment is now open and accessible online from HRConnect via Single Sign On! From Single Sign On, enter your Universal Identification Number (UIN) and password, then click on HRConnect. Once in the HRConnect, click on the large “Annual Enrollment” button.


You may access the annual enrollment system anytime (except 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays) through July 31 to make benefit changes, which will become effective September 1, 2005. You may make changes as many times as you like. The last set of changes you make will determine your benefits for the next plan year.



Through the annual enrollment system, you can view the Annual Enrollment booklet online in two ways. You can click on the “Annual Enrollment Booklet” button on the HRConnect main menu and get a PDF version of the entire booklet. Or, you can click on the “Annual Enrollment” button to enter the system. Once you are in the system, use the “Information and Frequently Asked Questions” drop-down menu on the main page to select the plan or topic you wish to view, then click “Show Category.” That will either pop up the chosen section of the booklet or will bring up a list of commonly asked questions with an Annual Enrollment button at the top that you can click to bring up the booklet section.



A new feature this year is online audio/video presentations, available through HRConnect (click on “Annual Enrollment Presentations” on the HRConnect main menu) or at http://hrc.tamu.edu/ae_presentations/mainmenu.asp?bhcp=1. One presentation features changes to all of the plans and general Annual Enrollment information. Other presentations provide overviews of each available plan.



The annual enrollment system also features a “Premium Expense Calculator” that allows you to make potential benefit choices and see the cost before you actually enter the choices in the system. The “Health Care Expense Summary” compares your costs under the health plans available to you.



Although you can make most benefit choices online, you will need to complete paper forms in a few cases. The annual enrollment system will identify those situations for you and provide a link to the online forms, which you’ll need to complete, print, and send to the HR Office or to the appropriate carrier.



If you do not wish to change your benefits, you do not have to do anything. However, you must enroll in Tax Saver Spending Accounts each year if you wish to use that program. Even if you don’t plan to change your benefits, you may want to go online and read the “September 1 Changes” information. On the main page, highlight “Changes for 2005” on the drop-down menu, and click on “Show Category.” Or you can view the “2005 Plan Changes” presentation by clicking the “Annual Enrollment Presentation” button in HRConnect. These will tell you how your benefits will change.



Remember, all employees and retirees are encouraged to take time to review their benefits and attend one of the Annual Enrollment meetings listed below. Annual Enrollment meetings bring benefit plan representatives and employees together to review benefit plans and discuss questions. Registration is necessary to make seating arrangements and provide refreshments. Please register at www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/annualenroll05.shtml.


Tuesday, July 14th 9:00 am SC Ballroom

Tuesday, July 14th 2:00 pm SC Ballroom


If you have questions about the annual enrollment system or your benefits, please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363. And, remember, you must make any benefit changes no later than July 31.


Premium and Benefit Changes Announced for FY 2005-2006

A&M System benefit plan provisions and premiums for September 1, 2005 have been announced, and the news is good for employees and retirees.


  • Full-time premiums for almost all A&M System-offered health plans will decrease effective September 1, 2005.
  • Premiums for both the A&M Dental and CIGNA Dental HMO plans will increase slightly, but benefits will significantly improve in the A&M Dental plan (see below).
  • Premiums for all other insurance programs will remain the same.

A complete list of premiums for employees and retirees is online at sago.tamu.edu/shro/Ae/rates_05.html.

A&M Care Plan Changes

  • The prescription drug deductible will decrease from $100 to $50 per person per plan year.
  • If your doctor provides documentation to PharmaCare (formerly EHS) before a prescription is filled stating that you have tried the formulary drug and you must have the non-formulary drug for medical reasons, and if PharmaCare approves the substitution, you will pay only the formulary co-payment, rather than the non-formulary co-payment.
  • You can enroll in the A&M Care 65 PLUS plan if you are disabled or 65 or older, enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, and working for the A&M System no more than 6 months of the plan year. Previously, you could not enroll in 65 PLUS if you worked for the A&M System after retirement.

Mercy Changes

  • You will pay 20%, rather than 25%, for durable medical equipment.
  • Ninety-day supplies of maintenance drugs will be available only through mail order.

UniCare Graduate Student Health Plan Changes

  • The plan's out-of-network deductible will increase from $100 per illness to $250 per illness.
  • The plan will pay a $1,000 maximum benefit for a pre-existing condition during the first 12 months of coverage.
  • For office visits, including those for chiropractic care, vision/hearing/speech exams, physical therapy and outpatient mental health care, the co-payment will increase from $20 to $25 per visit.
  • For emergency room care, you will pay a $75 co-payment after the deductible.
  • The brand-name drug co-payment will increase from $20 to $25, and your maximum benefit for prescription drugs per condition will increase from $1,000 to $1,500. However, your annual maximum benefit for prescription drugs will remain $3,000.

A&M Dental

The A&M Dental plan's annual and orthodontic maximum benefits will increase from $1,000 to $1,500.

Long-Term Care

If you are an employee, you will be able to enroll yourself in Long-Term Care during this year's Annual Enrollment period without providing evidence of good health. Retirees, spouses and other eligible family members will still be required to provide evidence of good health to enroll.

Tax Saver Spending Accounts

Grace period:
Both Health and Dependent Day Care Spending Accounts will have a 2.5 month grace period allowing you to submit claims for eligible expenses incurred through November 15 of the next plan year. For example, if you enroll in a Health Care Spending account this September 1, 2005 and wind up with money left in your account at the end of the plan year (August 31, 2006), instead of forfeiting that money, you can use it to reimburse yourself for medical services or supplies you receive between September 1 and November 15 of 2006.

Debit cards:
If you are currently enrolled in a Health Care Spending Account and re-enroll effective September 1, 2005, you will not receive a new debit card. Make sure you keep your current card for use this coming plan year. Your card will reflect your new Health Care Spending Account election and will be ready for use September 1.

Health care claims for dependents:
The Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004, which took effect January 1, 2005, changed the definition of eligible dependents for purposes of the Health Care Spending Accounts. You can use your Health Care Spending Account to pay health care claims only on those dependents who meet one of the following sets of criteria:

  • They must be 18 or younger at the end of the calendar year.
  • If they are older than 18 but younger than 24 at the end of the calendar year, they must be full-time students who provide less than half of their own financial support. You or someone else provides the rest.
  • If they are older than 18 at the end of the calendar year and not a student, and they receive more than half of their financial support from you.

For More Information

More information on the 2005 Annual Enrollment is posted at sago.tamu.edu/shro/ae.htm. This site includes the 2005 Annual Enrollment booklets for employees and retirees and a schedule of Annual Enrollment meetings.

This year, the site will also include PowerPoint presentations with audio providing general Annual Enrollment information as well as information about each insurance plan. These presentations, which are being developed by the System Human Resources Office and the insurance carriers, will give you around-the-clock, online access to the same information provided at the Annual Enrollment meetings.

The 2005 Annual Enrollment period will begin July 1 and end July 31. All employees and retirees will be able to access Annual Enrollment materials and make benefit changes using the HRConnect Annual Enrollment system, accessible via Single Sign On . However, retirees will receive Annual Enrollment materials in the mail.

For questions regarding Annual Enrollment, please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


Insurance ID Cards for the New Fiscal Year
  • BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas will only issue cards to new members or members with changes only.
  • PharmaCare (Formerly EHS) will only issue cards to new members.
  • Mercy Health plans will only issue cards to new members.
  • UniCare (GradStudent) will provide a mass re-issue.
  • A&M Dental PPO is yet to be determined.
  • Superior Vision will only issue cards to new members.
  • TaxSaver Plan (debit cards) will only be issued to new members.

If you have questions regarding your insurance ID cards, please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


Things to Consider When Selecting Your Health Plan

During the Annual Enrollment period from July 1st through 31st, you will be given the option to make changes to your health plan for the 2005-2006 plan year. To help you make an informed decision, take a look at the following questions:

How important is flexibility to you?
Flexibility is the key difference between the A&M Care plans and the HMO's. Except for emergencies, an HMO pays benefits only if you use a doctor or hospital that is in its network. The A&M Care plans, on the other hand, pays some level of benefits regardless of the doctor or hospital you use, although you do receive the highest level of benefits if you use a network provider. Because the A&M Care plans have provider networks throughout Texas and the U.S. while most HMO networks are limited to certain areas in Texas, you may prefer enrolling in one of the A&M Care plans if you travel frequently or have a child away at school.

Would you like to use a particular doctor, specialist, or hospital?
If so, find out which System-offered health plans, if any, have contracts with that provider. This information can be obtained by calling the HR Office, or requesting a provider directory for the plan you are interested in. The telephone numbers for each plan are also included in this year's Annual Enrollment Booklet.

Do any of the health plans cover a service that's particularly important to you?
To find out, refer to the health plan comparison charts, which are included in this year's Annual Enrollment Booklet, or contact the health plan's customer service offices. If more than one health plan covers a service you consider important, compare the benefits for that service in each plan.

How much does each plan cost?
Premiums and plan costs for many services are included in this year's Annual Enrollment Booklet. The premiums listed are monthly employee-out-of-pocket costs, so employees paid on a bi-weekly basis will pay half of the listed premium each pay period.

For questions regarding your benefits please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.

BCBSTX Website Has Two New Enhancements

BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas' (BCBSTX) online provider locator, Texas Provider Finder, is now updated daily. To access the locator, go to www.bcbstx.com and click on the "Provider Finder" link on the left side of the page.

To help plan participants maximize their network benefits, BCBSTX is developing Hospital-Based Physician Grids for its website. These tools will help identify anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists, emergency room physicians, and neonatologists who provide services at network benefit levels. The grids were introduced on June 1 for BCBSTX network facilities in Austin and San Antonio. Grids for other areas will follow.

To locate the Hospital-Based Physician Grids, access the BCBSTX website at www.bcbstx.com, click "Provider Finder," select the PPO product, and click "Next." In the Custom Search box, click the "Important Note: If you or a covered family member requires the services of an Anesthesiologist, Radiologist, Pathologist, ER physician, or Neonatologist." This note leads to an area listing, from which you can select one of the hospital lists. The hospital lists contain the names of the network hospitals in a particular area of the state, and they indicate whether the network hospital has contracted hospital-based physicians.

For questions regarding your BCBSTX coverage or their website, please call Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


PharmaCare Website Revamped

PharmaCare (formerly EHS) recently changed its website (www.ehs.com/members). To help familiarize you with the site's new look and organization, PharmaCare has developed two PowerPoint presentations that provide a tour of the site. To view the presentations, click on the following links:

For questions regarding your prescription drug program, please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


Updated ORP/TDA Vendor Fee and Fixed Account Summaries Now Available

The ORP/TDA Vendor Product and Fee Summary and the ORP/TDA Fixed Account Annuity Product or Investment Option Distribution Restriction Summary have been updated and are online at http://sago.tamu.edu/shro/pageretire.htm. These summaries are updated annually based on required disclosures from active vendors.

The Product and Fee Summary is provided to assist employees in evaluating and selecting ORP and/or TDA vendors. Vendors are required to report the highest fee that is charged in each category for any authorized investment option that is part of that product line.

The Fixed Account Annuity Product or Investment Option Distribution Restriction Summary reflects any ORP and TDA vendors offering fixed-interest account funds that have restrictions limiting the amount of distributions from these accounts or charging a surrender fee when funds are distributed from these accounts.

For questions regarding your ORP or TDA please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.


Relocation Services Provided Through FAS

Whether it's across the country or simply across town, moving is seldom a fun experience. Fortunately, the A&M System's relocation service, FAS Relocation Network, is on hand to make your next move a lot less taxing and perhaps even a little less expensive.

FAS Relocation Network can help ease your moving woes by:

  • Giving you access to certified relocation professionals who can help coordinate the entire process.
  • Providing information about the community to which you are moving.
    Assessing the value and condition of your current home and recommending strategies for selling it.
  • Arranging for property management services, if necessary.
  • Reviewing and negotiating offers on your home and closing costs.
  • Selecting and scheduling movers, monitoring their services, and troubleshooting problems.
  • Arranging and coordinating packing, loading, and delivery of your possessions.
  • Providing discounts on moving services.
  • Auditing the mover's invoice.
  • Helping resolve any damage claims.
  • Providing full replacement insurance up to a specified limit at no cost.
  • Analyzing the housing market and identifying housing within your budget.
  • Selecting a pre-screened real estate agent and monitoring the agent's performance.
  • Arranging building inspections, offers, contracts, negotiations, and closing procedures.
  • Providing names of pre-screened lenders or rental agents.
  • Pre-qualifying you for home loans and explaining your options.

You pay no administrative charges for most of FAS' services. You are, however, responsible for costs associated with the move (for example, mover's fee and closing costs). In addition to these services, FAS has an extensive website that includes many tools that can help make for an easier move:

  • A Salary Calculator, which lets you compare the cost of living in hundreds of major U.S. cities.
  • A City Report feature, which provides a side-by-side comparison of different cities so you can see how the two compare in terms of population, climate, crime, cost of living, and educational facilities.
  • A Community Calculator, which gives you detailed information about different cities.
  • Crime Lab, which provides a breakdown of the crime rate for hundreds of U.S. cities.
  • The Lifestyle Optimizer, which creates a list of the 10 best cities for you based on the criteria you provide.
  • A Moving Calculator, which estimates how much your move will be based on how far away you are moving and how much furniture you have.
  • The Relocation Wizard, which develops a timeline for your move.
  • The Mortgage Payment Calculator, which computes the monthly interest and principal on a mortgage.

For more information, contact FAS at 1-800-522-1052 or view the online System flyer about FAS.


Welcome, New Employees!!
  Claudia Y. Palacios, Switchboard Operator
Purchasing & Support Services
KL 006 ext. 2356
  Hilda V. Dennis, Staff Assistant
COAS (Dean's Office)
LBVSC 301 ext. 2462
  Jaime Ayala, Staff Assistant
Admissions Office
KL 155 ext. 2200

Virginia A. Morales KL 332 ext. 3020
FROM: Staff Assistant, COAS (Dean's Office)    
TO: Executive Secretary to Graduate Studies & Research, Office of Graduate Studies & Research    
Guillermo F. Gonzalez Jr. KL 155C ext. 2442
FROM: Financial Aid Counselor, Financial Aid    
TO: Associate Director, Admissions Office    

  Ruben Ayala, Groundskeeper
Physical Plant
  Guillermo Rodriguez, Jr., Building Maintenance Mechanic (Housing)
Physical Plant
  Nancy D. Herschap, Instructor
Department of Language & Literature

Military Leave

The Texas A&M University System supports its employees' service in state or national military units and provides military leave to eligible employees. Below is an overview of the types of military leave available; however, more detailed information can be found in the System online brochure called "A Call To Arms: A Guide to Military Leave." If you have questions or need assistance with military leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis, HR Assistant, by e-mail or at ext. 2364.

Paid Leave for Training and Duty:
You are entitled to 15 work days of paid military leave each federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). This leave may be used when you are engaged in National Guard or U.S. armed forces reserves training or duty ordered or approved by proper authority. The days may be consecutive or scattered throughout the year. If you are appointed to work less than 12 months each year, you are expected to arrange your military duty for the months when you are not scheduled to work. If this cannot be done, you must explain the reason(s) in your leave request. To cover monthly training obligations without using your 15 days of paid leave, your work schedule will be adjusted, whenever possible, so that 2 of your non-work days each month coincide with 2 days of military duty.

Paid Leave for Emergency Military Duty:
If you are a member of the National Guard and are called to active duty by the Governor of Texas because of an emergency, you will receive leave with pay. This leave will not be charged against your 15 days of military leave.

Unpaid Leave for Authorized Military Training or Duty:
After using the 15 days of paid military leave, you may use accrued vacation or be placed on leave without pay for up to 5 cumulative years.


University Sick Leave Pool

The University Sick Leave Pool was established to alleviate hardship caused to an employee and the employee's family if a catastrophic illness or injury forces the employee to exhaust all leave time earned by the employee and lose compensation. At that time, an employee may request to draw time from the University Sick Leave Pool in order to remain in pay status.

Employees may contribute to the University Sick Leave Pool at any time. Anyone wishing to contribute, or if you have questions about the University Sick Leave Pool, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.


Family/Medical Leave: Usage and Obligations

If you have at least 12 months of state service and have worked for the state at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, you are entitled to 12 weeks of Family/Medical Leave per fiscal year. If your leave request (whether sick leave, annual leave, or other paid or unpaid leave) is due to one of the following reasons, the leave will count toward your Family/Medical Leave entitlement for the fiscal year:

  • Birth of a child
  • Placement in your home of a child for adoption or state-certified foster care
  • Your serious health condition (illness, injury, or pregnancy)
  • To care for your spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
If you are applying for sick leave for one of these reasons, you must use all available paid leave before taking unpaid leave. Additionally, you must have your treating physician complete a Medical Certification Form (available from the HR Office) and submit it with your leave request form(s.)

While you are on paid leave, your benefit coverages will continue, and any premiums you normally pay for will be deducted from your pay. If you go on unpaid leave for one of the reasons stated above, the State will continue to pay its contribution toward your health coverage; however, you must continue to pay your share of premiums. Failure to do so may end some or all of your benefits coverages. You will receive a bill for your share of the premiums each month while you are on leave, and the bill must be paid within 30 days.

It is your responsibility to check in with your supervisor every 2 weeks while on leave to inform him/her of your status and expected date of return. It is also your responsibility to inform the HR Office if you would like to add a dependent to your coverage. This must be done within 60 days of the birth, adoption, etc. of the dependent.

If you take leave for one of the reasons stated above, you will be reinstated to your job or a similar job when you return from leave, unless you would not otherwise have been employed at that time.

If you have any questions about Family/Medical Leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis in the HR Office at ext. 2364.

Employees Must Obtain Approval to Engage in External Employment and Consulting

System Regulation 31.05.02 - External Employment states that if a System employee plans to engage in outside/external employment in addition to working in his/her primary University position, the employee must obtain approval for such employment using the “External Employment and Consulting Application and Approval Form.” This form is available online from the HR website under FORMS. Upon obtaining approvals from the supervisor(s) and appropriate VP, the form must be routed to the HR Office for proper filing.

The regulation mentioned above also governs all external employment by faculty members that is not directly related to their professional discipline. (NOTE: Faculty engaged in consulting is covered by System Regulation 31.05.01 - Faculty Consulting, External Employment and Conflicts of Interest).

If you have any questions regarding outside/external employment, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.


System Policy Manual and TAMIU Rules are Online!

As an employee of The Texas A&M University System, your employment is governed by the Texas A&M International University Rules as well as the A&M System Policy Manual. These policies should be referred to for guidance on issues related to your employment.

The System Policy Manual and TAMIU Rules are available online for your reference. You can access them from the TAMIU HR website by clicking on "System Policy Manual & TAMIU Rules." The System Policy Manual site even offers a search feature to help you quickly fine the item you are looking for.

If you have questions concerning the System Policy Manual and TAMIU Rules, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Getting to Know U!


Hafiz Islam has served as Instructor/Lab Technician in the Department of MIS & Decision Science since August 2000. In his spare time, he likes to read or watch movies. He enjoys sports (fishing, cricket, soccer, F1 racing, and basketball); music (mostly classic rock, instrumental, soft rock, fusion); and has an interest in technical gadgets. Hafiz also travels and collects key rings and other souvenirs from the places he visits. Most of all, Hafiz enjoys meeting and talking to people.

TAMIU, we want to get to know you! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself, and we will feature it along with a photo in this section of the newsletter. Submit your information to Xochitl Kladis via email or at ext. 2364.

Mug O' The Month
Maria Carroll is the Executive Secretary to VP in the Office of the VP for Institutional Advancement. She joined TAMIU in July 2000.

She received a prize for being the first to identify the TAMIU employee in the "Who is This?" section of the previous issue of the HR News & Views.

Who is This?  

The first person to email the HR Office and correctly identify this TAMIU employee by name and title will win a prize!

The identity of the employee who appeared in the last issue of HR News & Views can be found in "The Answer Corner" section of this newsletter!

The Answer Corner
The following are frequently-asked questions received in the Office of Human Resources. To ask us questions, use the "Ask HR" button on this newsletter.


Who was the baby in the "Who is This?" section of the last issue of "HR News & Views"?


That was Miguel Trevino, Event and Conference Services Manager in the Student Center. TAMIU employees who wish to submit their picture for the "Who is This?" section may contact the HR Office via email or at ext. 2365.



Do I have to complete any forms or visit the HRConnect Annual Enrollment system if I don't want to make any changes in my benefit coverages for the coming year?





If you don’t wish to change your benefits for the new plan year, you do not have to do anything. However, if you are currently enrolled in a Spending Account and wish to remain enrolled, you must re-enroll through HRConnect (via Single Sign On) or by completing your Personal Benefits Summary or a generic Annual Enrollment Form. Also, if you re-enroll in a Health Care Spending Account, you will not be issued a new debit card, so keep the card you are currently using so you can continue using it in the new plan year.

That Extra (S)Mile!
This section describes the deeds of TAMIU employees who have been observed going the "extra mile" for our University.
The week that Summer I tuition payment was due was a hectic week for Julia Pena, Accounting Assistant (Cashier) in the Business Office. Due to unforeseen circumstances, there were no other cashiers available that week and she was the only one working. She worked long days and wore many hats to get the job done. Julia still managed to do it all with a smile. She took care of students in a timely manner even though the phones were ringing off the hook. At the end of the day, she was dead on her feet, yet the next morning she was her cheerful self again. Through all this, I didn’t hear a complaint. Julia’s loyalty and dedication is applauded! Thank you, Julia, for a job well done…your efforts are noted and greatly appreciated! Also, the students may have not even been aware of all your efforts, but they certainly appreciated your efficient service.
If you know of any employee performing in such a way that deserves mention in this column, send their name and details of their deeds to the HR Office via email.

Phone: 956.326.2365
Fax: 956.326.2359
Location: Killam Library 320