Vanderbilt University transitions benefits administration starting July 1

Things to know: 

  • Starting July 1, benefits operations will be managed by a new vendor.
  • There will be a new process for dependent verification.
  • Employees will have the option to discontinue coverage during periods of unpaid leave or furlough.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts will move to Fidelity.
  • There will be a blackout period in June during the transition. For benefit enrollment, the black period is June 11 – 30. For FSAs, the black out period is June 3 – mid-July.

Vanderbilt University is changing its benefits administration services, set to take effect starting July 1. The university, which is currently served by WEX (formerly known as BenefitExpress), will shift the majority of its operations to Empyrean. The goal of the move is to enhance the overall benefits experience for faculty and staff.

The transition will bring with it a new enrollment platform that promises to streamline the benefits enrollment process. Employees can access a user-friendly app, allowing them to manage their benefits on their mobile devices. Additionally, a new enrollment decision tool will help employees make informed choices about their benefits coverage.

Major Changes 

With this transition comes a set of new processes designed to improve efficiency and transparency.  

Blackout Period Begins in June 

  • It’s important to note that during the transition period, there will be a blackout period lasting approximately one month during June. For benefits enrollment, the blackout period will occur June 11 – 30. Transactions will not be processed in the system, necessitating paper enrollments for new hires and life events related to all benefits. FSA’s black period will be June 3 through mid-July. FSA payments will resume once balances are tallied and transferred post-transition. 

Dependent Verification 

  • Vanderbilt will now begin dependent verification, requiring new employees who add dependents to their coverage to submit documentation to verify their relationship to the dependent(s). Existing employees who add more dependents to their coverage will also be required to submit documentation. This ensures the accuracy of benefit information and that only eligible dependents are covered under the plan.

Optional Coverage Discontinuation  

  • Another significant change involves the implementation of a life event option that allows employees to discontinue coverage during periods of unpaid leaves or furlough. This feature provides employees with the option to waive coverage during times without a paycheck and re-enroll in benefits upon their return from unpaid leave.
    • Those who choose to maintain their coverage will be directly billed for their benefit premiums, as has been the practice in the past.
    • If timely payment does not occur by the due date noted on the invoice, benefit coverage will be terminated retroactive to the last paid-through date until the following year, barring any qualifying life events.

Flexible Spending Accounts  

  • With the transition from WEX, we will be moving Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to Fidelity, which means consolidating HSA and FSA cards into a single card, reducing administrative complexities for employees managing these accounts.

As Vanderbilt University prepares for this transition, the focus remains on providing faculty and staff with access to high-quality benefits and resources to support their well-being. By partnering with Empyrean, the university is committed to delivering an enhanced benefits experience that meets the evolving needs of its workforce. For more information contact the benefits team at The weekly Curious Bar is also available as a resource for employees.