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MUHA benefits package offers opportunities

by Mark Stimpson
Medcial Center Human Resources Management
Are you getting the most out of your MUSC benefits? What follows is an overview that might help you answer that question.

MoneyPlus program

The MoneyPlus program permits employees to pay for dental, medical and the premiums associated with the first $50,000 of Optional Life insurance with pre-tax dollars. For example, if you have full family Basic Dental and the SHP Standard medical plan, your annual premiums total more than $3,700. When you receive your W2 at the end of the year, your taxable income is automatically reduced by this amount before federal, state and even social security taxes are calculated.
To make sure that you are taking advantage of this option, check your next paycheck to see if there is an asterisk beside the premium description (eg *Blue Cross) this indicates that these premiums are being paid with pre-tax dollars, if its not there, make a note to inquire about enrolling in this component of the MoneyPlus program during open enrollment in October.
An often overlooked benefit is the state’s long term disability (SLTD) insurance. Most employees pay less than $5 per paycheck for this coverage and, if the claim was approved, the insurance would pay approximately two-thirds of your base monthly income if you suffered a serious health condition which prevented you from working for at least 90 days. Check on your next paycheck that you have a deduction listed as SLTD, and if you don’t, contact the benefits desk to inquire about applying.

Health insurance
Standard State Health Plan (SHP Standard)
Often referred to as the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, the benefits of this plan are: reasonably priced; 80/20 coverage; 100 percent coverage after an individual reaches the out of pocket maximum of $2,000; wide coverage network including internationally; currently, via the employee discount program, the hospital waives charges for the 20 percent co-insurance on the hospital charges (doesn’t apply to physician charges) for employees and their dependents’ bills if treatment is received at MUSC; and low prescription drug charges including a $3 discount if they are filled at MUSC.

State Health Plan Savings (SHP Savings)
This insurance is referred to as a “high-deductible” plan. It has the lowest premiums but individual subscribers have to meet a $3,000 annual deductible. This is most appropriate for healthy individuals who have the cash reserves to pay the $3,000 in the event of a major unforeseen accident or illness.

Cigna Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
Cigna is a traditional HMO for which you need to select a primary care physician who then refers you to a specialist within the network, as needed. You must stay in network with this plan.
Bluechoice HMO
Bluechoice is also a traditional HMO—you have to stay in network and obtain referrals from a primary care physician to access specialists.

Retiree insurance
If you retire from MUHA, you may be eligible to take your health and dental insurance with you at the subsidized rate for the rest of your life.

Medicare Supplement Plan
Assuming you meet the qualifications to take your health insurance with you into retirement, when you reach age 65, you will have the ability to exchange your health insurance for a Medicare supplement plan. This plan, offered through the state, has been customized to fit together with Medicare coverage to limit the out of pocket expenses to a minimum. The drug coverage on this is superior to the new Medicare part D.

Dental insurance
The state offers two levels of dental insurance coverage. In October during open enrollment, you will have the opportunity to upgrade or downgrade your coverage which will then stay in effect for a period of two years.

Basic Dental

The benefits of this plan are: free to employees and less than $11 per paycheck for families; most licensed dentists will accept this insurance; each insured person is reimbursed up to $1000 per year for services rendered.

Dental Plus
This coverage is an addition to the basic dental and offers the following additional benefits: an extra $1,000 per person of dental insurance benefits per year; insurance pays more since it has a more generous reimbursement schedule.

Life insurance
Term life insurance is available to all benefits eligible employees and their families.

Disability Insurance
The state offers two forms of long term disability coverage and the hospital contracted with an outside insurance company to offer short-term coverage.

Long Term Care Insurance
Often referred to as nursing home insurance, the state contracted with Prudential Life Insurance Company to offer this coverage. Generally speaking, it provides money for services not usually covered under major medical insurance.
Long term care is commonly associated with, for example, older people with Alzheimer’s or stroke victims relearning how to cope with the daily activities of life.

Retirement Plans
MUSC's retirement plans are the strongest component of the benefits package. Did you know that, for participants in the Pension & the Optional Retirement plans, the hospital contributes almost twice the amount employees pay?
There are three mandatory plans (permanent employees must select one) and four supplemental plans.
State Pension plan (SCRS)—This is a traditional pension plan. Once you reach certain career milestones, you receive a monthly check for life.
Optional Retirement Plan (ORP)—This plan is similar to a 401K. Employees receive a lump sum of money at retirement based on the growth of investments selected. 
Special Healthcare Retirement Plan (SHARP)—This plan is only available to certain employees (registered nurses but not nurse managers, dietary and laundry staff and technical support staff.
Traditional 401K, Roth 401K, 403B and 457 Plans—All four of these plans are available to anybody that receives a paycheck from the hospital including temporary and part time employees.

Paid Time Off (PTO), Extended Sick Leave (ESL) & Supplemental Medical Leave (SML)

  • Annual accrual of a minimum of 23 days of PTO and eight days of ESL for 40 hour per week employees with higher accrual rates for long term employees.
  • SML for eligible employees can be used for brief doctors’ visits for employees and their families without having to use any PTO.
  • Up to three days of paid funeral leave for bereavement.
  • Paid jury duty leave and qualified military leave.

Tax Sheltered Spending Accounts
Through the MoneyPlus program, benefits eligible employees have the ability to use pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible dependent day care medical related expenses.

Tuition Assistance
The hospital is committed to helping employees improve their work related knowledge and skills through completion of course work and degrees offered by higher education institutions. This program includes tuition assistance up to $5,250 per year and employees may be eligible for a tax exclusion up to $5,250.
For more information about any of the benefits mentioned above, visit the benefits desk in Suite 200, 163 Rutledge Ave., or call 792-0826. For information, employees may visit

Editor's note: This overview is not intended to be comprehensive but instead discusses selected benefits highlights only.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.