Frontline: Helpful Hints and Tips


Our Employee Assistance Program continues to be a wonderful source of helpful information! This month’s EAP newsletter, Frontline, offers tips about a number of issues including:

  • Gratitude
  • To-do lists
  • Positive thinking/attitudes
  • Fitness ideas for the desk worker

Click the link below to take advantage of more ways to improve your work relationships and beyond!

EAP Newsletter

Last Chance to Enroll in Long-term Disability

Reminder  Last Chance to Enroll in Long-term Disability

There are just a few days left to enroll in Long-term Disability, which ends on March 31, 2019. This was special, one-time open enrollment opportunity for optional long-term disability insurance. Click the highlighted link above to find out how you can enroll.


Enroll in Long-term Disability during the month of March

From March 1 through March 31, 2019, you will have a special, one-time open enrollment opportunity for optional long-term disability insurance. You can enroll or reduce your waiting period without providing evidence of insurability (proof of good health). Normally, you must submit proof of good health to take these actions after your initial 31-day eligibility period for PEBB benefits.

This opportunity is available to employees whose employer offers LTD insurance. Changes made during March 2019 will be effective May 1, 2019. Learn more about optional LTD, or calculate your LTD insurance needs, on The Standard’s website.

If you haven’t enrolled in optional LTD in the past, or didn’t want to provide proof of good health, now is a great time to reconsider this benefit.

Note: The current preexisting condition exclusion and 12-month exclusion period will still apply during the one-time open enrollment. Please read your certificate of coverage carefully to understand this benefit.

How do I take advantage of this opportunity?

To enroll or reduce your waiting period, complete the Long-Term Disability One-time Open Enrollment/Change Form and submit it to your personnel, payroll, or benefits office by March 31, 2019.

Paid Family & Medical Leave is Coming to Washington State

On behalf of Sheryl Gordon:

Starting in 2020, Washington State will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave to workers.  Washington State passed legislation in 2017 that established the “Paid Family and Medical Leave” (PFML) program that offers Washington workers the opportunity to receive partial wage replacement while on leave for qualifying family and/or medical events after establishing eligibility. This insurance program will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks, as needed, when they welcome a new child into their family, experience a serious illness, need to take care of a sick relative, and for certain military connected events.  If workers experience multiple events in a given year, they may be eligible to receive up to 16 weeks, or up to 18 weeks if the employee experiences a serious health condition with a pregnancy that results in incapacity.


Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program is organized as an insurance program, and like most insurance programs, it is funded through premiums.  Beginning on January 1, 2019, most employers will be required to withhold premiums from their employee’s paychecks, and many employers will be required to pay into the program too.

As directed by the Legislature, premium assessment begins on January 1, 2019 and benefits can be applied for starting January 1, 2020.

Great News

Green River College is opting to pay both the employer and the employee premiums to fund this new Paid Family & Medical Leave program! 

Details on How It Will Work

Eligible Washington workers will be able to use Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits starting in 2020.  The application and benefit payment process will be managed by the Washington State Employment Security Department.  For more information about PFML, go to

Open Enrollment Continues!

On behalf of Sheryl Gordon:

Our Open Enrollment period is continuing but you’ve got just 15 days to make changes to your current plans! From now until November 30, you can make the following changes:Open Enrollment


You make changes on your My Account feature on the PEBB website 24 hours/day.


Changes made during Open Enrollment become effective January 1, 2019.

Happy Summer 2018!

Now that summer has officially begun, lots of us will be taking some time to enjoy travel and well-deserved “down time”. As you plan your vacations and leisure time, be sure to check out the articles and resources offered through our Employee Assistance Program. The link below will guide you to a number of informative articles to help you get the most out of your free time.


Travel and LeisureSummer Sun

New Employee Assistance Services!


In addition to the free counseling and consultation already available to you, EAP now offers free legal consultation and financial counseling services, as well as a comprehensive work-life website that includes resources, articles, webinars and e-learning, financial calculators, legal documents, self-search provider databases for eldercare, childcare, and more.

All of these services can be accessed 24/7 by visiting the web portal and entering our organization code: GRC. A legal or financial counselor can also be reached anytime by calling 1-888-728-1408. If you have any questions, please contact the EAP by visiting

When you visit the site, you will notice that there are two buttons on the top left of the page describing the legal and financial benefits. As you explore the website, you will find thousands of resources available by topic.

Visit the EAP web portal today to learn what new features are available and what is covered!

It’s Open Enrollment Time!


Changes you can make:Open Enrollment

  • Change your medical or dental plan, including waiving for an eligible reason;
  • Add or remove an eligible dependent;
  • Enroll or re-enroll in Medical Flexible Spending or Dependent Care Assistance Program

For more detailed information, see the latest For Your Benefit Newsletter:


Get Your Flu Shot!

Student Affairs and the Office of Human Resources & Legal Affairs are teaming up to bring you the annual flu immunization clinic by the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association.  The clinic will be held on Thursday, November 9th from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in theFlu Shot Emerald Room in the Student Union.

You don’t need to sign up for your flu shot, just show up with your completed Patient Consent Form on the day of the clinicSVNA also recommends you bring your insurance card to the clinic.  Completion of the Patient Consent Form prior to the clinic helps for a smooth flow and decreased wait time.

SVNA provides the standard Trivalent (three strains) or the Quadrivalent (four strains). The nurses carry a small amount of Thimerosal-Free (preservative free) which they offer to pregnant women as required by WA State regulations. The nurse may accommodate a request by non-pregnant participants for the T-Free vaccine if there are enough doses available at the time of the clinic.  SVNA generally gives the standard Trivalent vaccine to all non-pregnant participants unless requested otherwise.  SVNA does not offer the high dose vaccine for those over 65 years old, the egg-free vaccine, flu mist (nasal spray) or pneumonia vaccine.

Download a Patient Consent Form:

What are the payment options?

  1. SVNA can bill directly for nearly all major insurance plans (they will be able to bill your PEBB Uniform or Kaiser plans).  The insurance information will be provided by you on the Patient Consent Form.  SVNA recommends you bring your insurance card to the clinic.
  2. Pay cash/check – If a participant is uninsured or if it’s a plan SVNA does not bill, the participant may pay in cash or by check at the time the vaccination is given.  SVNA does not take credit cards.  The standard Trivalent is $30; Quadrivalent is $40 and Thimerosal Free is $35.


If you have questions:  email or

MetLife Advantages

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Benefits Manager

Metlife MotherChild

MetLife Advantages

By now most of us are aware that our life insurance company changed to MetLife during the last Open Enrollment, but are you aware that if you are enrolled in MetLife life insurance through Green River – as an eligible employee – you have access to free services for support, planning and protection when you need it most?

MetLife Advantages” is a comprehensive suite of valuable services that offers free product services to you and your family, such as will preparation and estate resolution services.

The services are offered by third-party vendors, but free for those enrolled in MetLife.*

Find out more about the program here, MetLife Advantages Program. Scroll down and click on the green “Sign in to MyBenefits” link.   (Note: you do not need to sign in –just click on the “Group Life Insurance” tab at the top of the page, then click on the “MetLife Advantages link).

*Note: some services require that you be enrolled in “supplemental” life insurance (more than just the employer-paid basic coverage) in order to utilize the particular resource.

Medical FSA and DCAP Reminders

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Benefits Manager

Discretionary Health Savings Account (HSA) Employee Contributions

Federal regulations do not allow dual enrollment in a CDHP/HSA and a medical FSA. Employees who change to a Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP) with an HSA for the upcoming year and had a medical FSA in the previous year must have a $0 balance in the FSA as of December 31 to receive the employer contribution and make discretionary employee contributions to the HSA.

In January, agencies were notified of employees who had changed to a CDHP/HSA during open enrollment and still had a medical FSA balance. We requested that any discretionary HSA deductions entered into the payroll system be removed until after the medical FSA grace period.

This is a reminder that beginning April 1 employers may activate the discretionary employee contribution to the HSA for these employees. In addition, at the end of April, the employee will receive the employer contribution to their HSA for January, February, March and April. Employees enrolled as a single subscriber will receive a deposit of $233.36 ($58.34 x 4 months) and employees enrolled with at least one family member on the account will receive a deposit of $466.68 ($116.67 x 4 months). If employees earned the $125 Wellness incentive during 2016, this will be included in the deposit at the end of April.

2016 Medical Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) and Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) Claims Submission Deadline is March 31, 2017

The deadline to submit claims against your 2016 medical FSA and DCAP is March 31, 2017. All claims must be received by Navia Benefits Solutions no later than March 31, 2017.

Claims may be submitted online at or by completing the 2016 medical FSA and DCAP claim form. The form may be faxed (425-451-7002 or toll-free 1-866-535-9227); emailed (; or mailed (Navia Benefit Solutions, PO Box 53250, Bellevue, WA 98015-3250).

If Navia Benefit Solutions does not receive your claim by March 31, 2017, the medical FSA or DCAP account will be closed and any balance remaining will be forfeited to the plan administrator, the Health Care Authority. Once the money is forfeited, you will not be able to claim it.

If you would like to confirm the balance in your 2016 medical FSA or DCAP account, contact Navia Benefit Solutions at 1-800-669-3539 or 425-452-3500 or log into your account from their website (

Kaiser Permanente Acquisition is Complete

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordonkaiser-permanente
Kaiser Permanente’s acquisition of Group Health Cooperative became final February 1, and with that, Group Health is now part of the largest integrated health system in the nation. While Group Health will now be part of Kaiser Permanente, it’s important to remember:

  • The plan you’ve selected won’t change. Your premiums, benefits, and costs will stay the same in 2017. So will your member number.
  • You can keep your doctors. You and your family will continue to receive care from the doctors and care teams you count on.
  • You can still get care at the locations you visit now. The name on the buildings will change, but the same convenient clinics — with doctors’ offices, lab, pharmacy, and X-ray usually under one roof — will continue to serve you. The same goes for online services, including the mobile app, your electronic health record and secure messaging with your doctor.

Group Health members can expect to receive a letter from Kaiser Permanente in March with new ID cards (but with the same member number). Your existing Group Health card is still valid; continue to use it until you receive your new Kaiser card.

Sheryl F. Gordon
Benefits Manager
Extension 2600

PEBB Health Coverage Changes

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Benefits ManagerInsurance1095

The Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB) program is instituting several changes next year, beginning January 1, 2017. The changes will include:

  • New life insurance benefits and premiums
  • Medical plan benefits – including Telehealth or “virtual” office visits!
  • Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) Plus expanded into new counties
  • Medical plan premiums
  • Individual contribution amounts for health savings accounts (HSA)
  • Optional long-term disability (LTD) insurance premiums
  • PEBB Program rules and policies

Check out the following flyer to find out more details about the above changes:

PEBB Health Coverage Changes 2017

*And don’t forget that open enrollment for MetLife starts November 1, 2016.

MetLife and PEBB Life Insurance

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon

MetLife is the PEBB Program’s new life insurance carrier in 2017

The Health Care Authority (HCA) recently partnered with MetLife to provide increased life insurance benefits to eligible Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program members starting January 1, 2017.

Concurrent with the PEBB Program’s open enrollment, MetLife will hold a special, one-time open enrollment opportunity that will allow many PEBB Program subscribers to enroll in or increase their supplemental life insurance or supplemental accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance from November 1-30, 2016.

Some of the benefit changes for 2017 include:

  • Employer-paid, basic life insurance for employees will increase from $25,000 in 2016 to $35,000 in 2017. Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance will remain at $5,000. This increase is at no cost to the employee;
  • Many PEBB members will be able to enroll in or increase their amount of life insurance during MetLife’s Open Enrollment (up to $500,000) without health questions and/or medical exams;
  • Eligible employees can apply for amounts over $500,000 up to $1,000,000 with health questions and/or medical exams;
  • Also changes in supplemental life insurance options for children and for retirees.You will receive much more information in your PEBB Program “For Your Benefit” newsletter which PEBB will send out on September 13th to all PEBB Program members.

You will receive much more information in your PEBB Program “For Your Benefit” newsletter which PEBB will send out on September 13th to all PEBB Program members


Summary of Benefits and Coverage

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon



You call it your Summary of Benefits and Coverage!

Need to know what’s covered under your health plan and what services may not be, what’s included in your plan’s “out-of-pocket” limit, or what your overall deductible is?

You can find all that and more in your plan’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage. Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBC’s) are required under the federal Affordable Care Act to help plan members understand plan benefits and medical terms.

The PEBB Program and/or medical plans provide SBCs, or notice of how to get one, at different times throughout the year (like when you apply for coverage, renew your plan, or request an SBC). SBCs are available (upon request) in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, and Navajo.

You can find your Plan’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage here:

Summaries of Benefits and Coverage

Summaries of Benefits and Coverage aren’t the only useful tool when comparing plans; PEBB also offers a handy side-by-side Medical benefits comparison tool for researching your plan options.


Common Myths & Misconceptions about FMLA at Green River College

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon



Myth #1 – FMLA (Family & Medical Leave) is a separate “paid” leave.FMLA2

  • No, FMLA is unpaid leave; FMLA is a “designation” not a leave type. When approved, FMLA provides up to 480 hours or about three (3) months of job-protected (unpaid) leave, but employees must use their own appropriate leave type in order to continue being paid while out on FMLA. Shared leave may also be an option.

Myth #2 – The employer can’t ask for any medical information.

  • Wrong – FMLA regulations allow employers to get sufficient proof of the medical need in order to be able to make an FMLA determination.

Myth #3 – It’s okay for me to talk about my coworker’s FMLA or email details about the medical condition to my fellow employees.

  • So wrong – Employees who go on medical leave are protected by confidentiality laws to prevent the nature of their or their families’ medical condition from being disclosed.  You should not convey specifics of other employees’ (or their families’) medical conditions to others at work, even if the affected employee is disclosing the information to others at work. It is not okay to use Green River College email or any other college resources to pass along confidential medical information.

Myth #4 – My coworker shared with me that she is on approved FMLA leave for a serious medical condition, but I saw her shopping at Costco yesterday. Isn’t that a violation or abuse of FMLA?

  • There is no “stay-at-home” policy associated with the receipt of leave benefits at Green River. The answer to this question is going to depend on whether the employee is unable to do her job, but capable of stopping at a store and running an errand. In other words are her actions inconsistent with the medical reason she took FMLA, and only the employee’s doctor can determine what her limitations or restrictions are.

Myth #5 – My supervisor can decide that it’s too much of a hardship on our department for me to be gone, and the college can deny my FMLA request for leave.

  • Wrong – Under the FMLA you cannot be denied FMLA leave if
    • (1) you are an eligible employee
    • (2) of a covered employer
    • (3) requesting leave for a reason covered by FMLA
    • (4) you have provided sufficient information for your employer to determine that you have made a request for medical leave that is covered by FMLA
    • (5) the request has been made thirty days prior to the required leave (or as soon as reasonably possible if thirty days’ notice cannot be provided) and
    • (6) you have not already exhausted your protected leave for the current FMLA period.

Myth #6 – Holidays don’t count towards my FMLA (480-hour) entitlement while I’m gone on approved leave.

  • Wrong –if you’re gone an entire week during which a holiday falls, the holiday counts as part of your FMLA 480-hour designation. If you worked part of that week, the holiday will not count towards your 480-hour FMLA entitlement.


Myth #7 – I can use FMLA just to spend time with my eligible family member when she/he is sick:

  • Wrong – FMLA to care for a family member means that your presence is required to care for your family member. In the medical certification, your doctor must specify what care you are providing to your family member and why your absence to perform that care is necessary during your working hours.

Myth #8 – I can take FMLA to care for my elderly grandparents.

  • In most cases, no. The FMLA does not recognize grandparents as immediate family members for FMLA purposes and Green River’s FMLA policy does not include them either. Unless your grandparent acted in loco parentis (had legal responsibility to take on some of the functions of a parent), they will not be considered a family member for FMLA purposes.

Myth #9 – I just use my FMLA “intermittently” and so I don’t need to let my supervisor know when I’m going to be gone.

  • Wrong – Unless your supervisor has agreed otherwise, you must follow the appropriate sick leave notification process each day during “intermittent” FMLA use and report your absence to your supervisor. You should never include any medical facts or describe physical events; just specify you will be out for FMLA approved reasons.

Myth #10 – I was approved for FMLA to care for my seriously ill family member who passed away. My FMLA will continue throughout my “grieving” period.

  • No, even though the employee will experience a period of grieving unless there is a qualifying event that makes the employee eligible for FMLA, the “Care for a Family Member” FMLA ends with the passing of the relative. The employee may be eligible for several days of paid bereavement leave however.


You can read more about FMLA at Green River College in our Policy HR 13 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and at

SmartHealth and the Seahawks

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon

Win Tickets to a Seahawks Game!


Earn your chance to win Seahawks vs. Panthers tickets*!

You’ve been the 12th MAN (or WOMAN) on the Seahawks team for years. Now, you can win Seahawks tickets by taking care of their MVP: You!

The SmartHealth program is giving away Seahawks tickets!  Two lucky winners will each receive two tickets to the Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on December 4, 2016. To be automatically entered into the drawing, eligible PEBB Program subscribers must complete the following steps by September 30, 2016:

  1. Visit and select Get started.
  2. Complete the SmartHealth Well-being Assessment.
    If you don’t have Internet access, you can complete the Well-being Assessment by phone (1-855-750-8866), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific Time.
  3. Join and complete activities to earn total 2,000 points.

Winners will be announced the week of October 3–7, 2016. Eligible PEBB Program subscribers can complete the following SmartHealth activities and more to reach 2,000 points:

  • Mindful Eating. Be mindful during meals for weight control.
  • The Magic Hour. Unplug from technology up to an hour before bed for better sleep.
  • Protect Your Back. Restore your back with strength-training exercises and by stretching regularly.
  • Blast Fat Fast. Combine cardio and strength training for better heart health.

*For drawing details and rules, visit

Retirement – VEBA Explained

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon

Do you ever wonder how it might benefit you to be a good manager of your sick leave?

Veba Trust

At Green River College, Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) is a medical expense plan funded with your compensable unused sick leave at retirement. When you meet the retirement criteria for your plan and terminate from Green River College as a retiree, the College will pay out your remaining compensable sick leave on a 1-for 4-basis at your current rate of salary.

The funds go tax free to a reimbursement account from which you can draw upon in retirement to pay eligible out-of-pocket medical costs for you and your eligible dependents. You can invest in your account using one of two different options, and you can change your investment selection(s) up to once per calendar month.

VEBA Trust currently provides benefits to 50,000 public employees and retirees from more than 400 school districts, community and technical colleges, state agencies, and higher education institutions in Washington.

Learn more about VEBA at retirement VEBA Trust.

Employee Assistance Program

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon

Employee Assistance Program Services – How Can EAP Help You?


The Employee Assistance Program helps employees and their family members resolve personal or work-related issues. You qualify for this benefit because you are a Washington State Government employee.  EAP offers it’s services at no charge; you’re entitled to three face-to-face visits (per each type of incident) and your visit to EAP is confidential, except where state or federal laws provide for exception, such as in cases of abuse or when a person is a threat to themselves or others.

EAP can help with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Addictions
  • Anger
  • Marital or relationship issues
  • Parenting issues
  • Grief & loss
  • Caregiving
  • Eldercare
  • Coping with change
  • Workplace issues
  • Self-improvement

You can subscribe to receive EAP News; when you sign-up, you’ll get monthly updates by email or text from EAP and receive publications, announcements and information like Monthly EAP Tip Sheets and Employee Frontline Newsletters.

EAP services are available both out of the Olympia office and by EAP providers across the state. For information, to schedule an appointment, or for a consultation, please call the EAP toll-free 1-877-313-4455 or visit their website WA State Employee Assistance Program.


Consequences of a Missed a Deadline

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon

The state of Washington, through the PEBB Program provides medical, dental and other insurance coverage to state employees (that’s us folks)!    The PEBB Group in Olympia (Public Employee Benefits Board) works very hard to negotiate plans to keep you and your family healthy.  When you get an email from your HR Office that notifies you of eligibility for employer benefits, you should respond, because in the PEBB system not taking action can result in some unwanted consequences.  The following question from a current staff member illustrates this . . .

Question: I’m a newly eligible employee, but I have health coverage through another employer group.  I didn’t fill out or submit the health insurance forms you sent me by the “due date,” and the college defaulted me into the Uniform Plan and to the Smoker Surcharge, for which I now have to pay $84 + $25 per month and can’t make changes until next fall’s Open Enrollment.   I didn’t sign anything or give permission for you to do this.  Is this legal?

Answer:  The default for “non-response” is supported in both RCW and WAC. Here are the citations:

  • RCW 41.05.065(4) gives the PEBB board the authority to determine terms and conditions of employee and retired employee participation and coverage, including establishment of eligibility criteria subject to the requirements of RCW chapter 41.05.065.


  • RCW 41.05.065(8) states “Employees shall choose participation in one of the health care benefit plans developed by the board and may be permitted to waive coverage under terms and conditions established by the board.” Those terms and conditions include submitting a form within 31 days to choose to waive medical coverage.


  • WAC 182-08-197(1)(b) states “If a newly eligible employee’s employing agency does not receive the employee’s required forms indicating medical, dental and LTD elections and the employee’s tobacco use status attestation within 31 days and life insurance elections within 60 days of the employee becoming eligible, his or her enrollment will be as follows: (i) Uniform Medical Plan Classic; (ii) Uniform Dental Plan; (iii) Basic life insurance; (iv) basic long-term disability insurance; (v) Dependents will not be enrolled; and a tobacco surcharge will be incurred as described in WAC 182-08-185(1)(b).


As a state entity, we must follow state-mandated requirements (i.e. those outlined in the RCWs and WACs). Our office will continue to send out notifications in an effort to avoid missed deadlines, so please keep an eye out!

Confused About Medicare Part B?

Medicare.govPosted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Employee Benefits.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.08.41 PM

Qualify for Part A Medicare and you generally pay no monthly premium, but enrolling in Part B will mean you pay a monthly premium (currently $104.90). Many employees believe they have to enroll in Medicare Part B when they turn 65, or pay a penalty to enroll later and/or experience a delay in coverage. This is not correct. If you are enrolled in a group health plan based on current employment when you turn 65, you can “defer” enrolling in Part B Medicare until you retire or otherwise lose your employer plan. When you retire or your employment ends (and thus your employer group coverage), you have an 8-month Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare Part B without paying a penalty.

Note: Employees enrolled in PEBB or other retiree coverage, TRICARE, or those receiving Veterans’ benefits may be required to have Part B coverage or Part B may offer additional benefits or services.

Learn more at

Open Enrollment Through November 30th

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Employee Benefits.

Open Enrollment continues through November 30, and there are new plans available for 2016. If you haven’t taken the time to review your plan, now is the perfect time!


In case you need to catch up on the conversation, in our last post we detailed information on the following:

  • Register Online
  • Add Family Members
  • Stay Up to Date
  • Compare Plans
  • Re-enroll in FSA or Dependent Care Programs
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing a Medical Plan

Here are some things to think about when choosing a medical plan…

Open Enrollment Is Here!!!

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Employee Benefits. 

Open enrollment is finally here! Whooooohooooo!


Find answers to the most often asked questions during EVERY Open Enrollment. 

  • Learn what changes you can make…
  • Learn how and where to make your changes by logging into “My Account”…
  • Find out where to attend a benefits fair…
  • Find out if there are any Webinars left…
  • Find out how to enroll or re-enroll in   Flexible Spending and/or Dependent Care Assistance…

During Open Enrollment each year you can change plans, add or remove eligible family members, waive your health coverage if you have a valid reason under PEBB rules, enroll in the Flexible Spending Program or the Dependent Care Assistance Program or (if you need to) re-attest to the spousal coverage premium surcharge.

Register Online

Unless you’re adding family members never on your account before, you will DO IT ONLINE at – If you’ve never registered before, you will need to do that first.  On your MY ACCOUNT  you will change plans, add or remove family members, re-attest if you need to (by clicking on the “my attestations” tab at the top of the page) of your “My Account.”

Add Family Members

If you’re adding eligible family members never before on your account, you will need to submit a 2016 paper enrollment form to Human Resources because you will also have to provide verification (prove they are your family members).  Find the forms under “Get a Form” in the green tabs on the PEBB WEBSITE

Stay Up to Date

There’s still one webinar left —on Monday, November 23 and lots of benefit fairs.  More information at Benefit Fairs and Webinars. Also, be sure to check out the October “For Your Benefit” newsletter. 

Compare Plans

A VERY, VERY COOL FEATURE ON THE PEBB WEBSITE is the Medical Plan Comparison Tool  You can compare the benefits of three health plans at once.

Re-enroll in FSA or Dependent Care Programs

During Open Enrollment each year you can also enroll or re-enroll (you must re-enroll every year) in the FLEXIBLE SPENDING ARRANGEMENT PROGRAM and/or DEPENDENT CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM  – great way to keep more of your money in your pocket.

Most Asked Question

AND, OH YES, the most often-asked question during every Open Enrollment is . . . .”If I don’t want to make any changes and I don’t need to attest to any of the surcharges, DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING……..And the answer is “No.”

Open Enrollment Benefits Fairs at a City Near You

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Employee Benefits.

Open Enrollment Benefits Fairs Are Coming – November 1 through November 30

benefits fair

Visit a PEBB benefits fair to pick up information and speak personally with representatives from the health plans, the PEBB Program, Department of Retirement Systems, and more.

Attend an Open Enrollment Benefit Fair  to find out more or register now for a webinar to learn more about the new, lower-cost medical plan options available in 2016. Webinars are offered through Monday, November 23!

PEBB’s annual open enrollment is your chance to:

Changes made during open enrollment are effective January 1, 2016. If you do not want to make any plan changes, you do not need to do anything.

Webinars on New Medical Plans

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Employee Benefits.

Webinars about value-based purchasing and the new medical plans in 2016.

PEBB will host free webinars to present information and answer questions about the new medical plans for 2016.  To attend, preregister at by selecting the Webinars link.  Webinar dates and times follow.

webinarsWebinar schedule:

  • Thursday, October 22, 2015
    8 to 8:30 a.m.
    Webinar ID: 102-392-219
  • Thursday, October 29, 2015
    3 to 3:30 p.m.
    Webinar ID: 150-999-987
  • Monday, November 23, 2015
    2 to 2:30 p.m.
    Webinar ID: 152-722-787

To attend, preregister at by selecting the Webinars link.

It’s Flu Shot Time!

Posted on behalf of Health Services.

It’s that time of year again. We are well into the quarter and remember it takes a couple of weeks for the flu vaccine to give you the resistance. Planning ahead for the flu season is a good idea.

Flu Shot Time

The next visit from Seattle Visiting Nurse Association is schedule for:

  • Tuesday, November 3, 2015
    4:30pm-6:00pm in SA, St. Helens room

Don’t forget to review the Patient Consent Form and Vaccine Information Statement (VIS). Completion of the Patient Consent form prior to the clinic helps for a smooth flow and decreased wait time. Lastly, here’s some promotional items on No More Excuses: You Need a Flu Vaccine and FLU F.A.C.T.S. t o be aware of.

If you are not using your insurance coverage they take only check or cash (28.00). For more information contact Julie French.

New Health Plan Options Coming in 2016

screenshot-PEBB-newsletterThe Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program will offer three new plan options in the Puget Sound area, starting January 1, 2016. These plans are designed to promote higher quality through enhanced care coordination.

More Coordinated Care

These new plans will include a broad array of providers and health systems for members to choose from within the integrated network. These providers and health systems will work together to:

• Encourage you to use a primary care network provider to be your partner in making medical decisions.
• Allow all network providers, including both physical and mental health, access to your medical records for better care coordination and efficiency.
• Avoid duplicate tests and services.
• Focus on improving your overall health.

For complete information related to this topic, be sure to view the “For Your Benefit” newsletter from the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program.

Benefits That Matter: Yoriko Sosa-Nakata

This series introduces an employee benefit and the meaning behind it, through the lives of Green River employees and their families. Created by Sheryl Gordon.

Yoriko Sosa-Nakata

Yoriko Sosa-Nakata presenting with her group in a recent IT BAS course.

What event most recently occurred in your life that got you thinking about benefits?
One of the Information Technology Bachelor of Applied Science (IT BAS) instructors, Ken Hang, shared his vision for the new program before it started. Ken’s vision to help students become full stack developers (which he calls “unicorns” since such an individual is hard to come by) helped me realize the IT BAS Program was my perfect path (I also was intrigued about becoming one of the first unicorns in the program).  :)

Personally, I have also been aware of the gap between formal educational and those skills that are self-taught through applied or creative fields. I know that I’ve transformed or evolved through work and certifications in digital media production, magazine layout, marketing campaigns, and web development. I believe that having the right knowledge (both formal and informal), combined with an official IT BAS degree, will play a major role in my personal and professional growth.

Yoriko Sosa-Nakata

Presentations were given to the cohort, program instructors, and industry guests.

What specific Green River benefit do you appreciate most?
I truly appreciate the tuition waiver benefit that state employees receive.  One of great things about enrolling at Green River was that the majority of my previous IT and web courses were accepted as part of the IT BAS program requirements. That made my life much easier, as it took prior learning and professional experience into account.

Once accepted into the program, I simply complete forms at the beginning of the quarter,  submit them to HR and my instructor to obtain signatures, and then provide the final documents to Enrollment Services. It also helps to have a supervisor who supports professional development of course.

What does that benefit mean to you and loved ones?
Well…this benefit actually enriches the life of my entire family. It means that one day we’ll be able to create our own family app (something my husband and son are excited about as they are both geeks as well). Besides getting to work on school projects though, in some cases for real-world clients brought into the classroom, the skills taught perfectly compliment the existing degrees I already have. The IT BAS degree symbolizes real-world projects, becoming a full stack developer, and the unlimited potential for creative freedom.

Yoriko Sosa-Nakata

Yoriko’s team project resulted in a working prototype of a location-based, college map application.

What tips would you provide to anyone who is thinking about using this same benefit?
I spent several years attempting to determine which degree option or college best fit my unique needs. As it happened the best college was the one I actually work for! Getting to this point, however, has been a long journey. Originally, I began my research several years ago, but was unable to find the perfect solution, which took into account prior education and technical skills, while still being flexible enough to work into a busy schedule.

I would suggest to anyone considering this benefit, the tuition waiver program, that their decision be a family decision. There are so many variables involved (from work schedule to childcare, and even getting back into the mode of pulling all-nighters if necessary) that the entire family has to be on the same page. It means becoming a student once again. It means weeknights and weekends are spent doing homework. It means my husband is probably giving my son fast food on occasion. It means missing family events or scheduling vacations around breaks in quarters. It also means I have an extensive support system, both at home and in my newfound brothers and sisters in the IT BAS cohort. This is a decision we did not take lightly and one that we are proud to have chosen at the very institution we work at. For that, we sincerely thank Green River College.

Saving Money with Credit Unions

Posted on behalf of Sheryl Gordon.


At Green River College you have your choice of joining two credit unions to help you save more and take control of your money: School Employees Credit Union (SECU) and Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU). These credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions offering a wide array of products and services with competitive rates, low or no fees, easy access, and a commitment to making your life easier.

Joining a credit union has many benefits, including:

  • Direct deposit or payroll deduction from your paycheck
  • Free and/or low-fee checking accounts
  • Flexible accounts to help manage savings, including money markets, certificates, and IRAs
  • Free online bill paying
  • Free online transfers between credit union and other financial institutions
  • Free ATM use for deposits and withdrawals (when using affiliated machines)
  • Low loan rates
  • Visa credit and debit cards of various types with low, variable rates and no annual fees
  • Visa gift cards
  • Free online budgeting tools
  • Scholarships
  • Superior member service via web, phone, ATM, and mail
  • Shared branches (statewide and nationwide)


FAQ’s on New Accountable Care Health Plans

By Sheryl Gordon

Health Plans

Would you like a different health plan option with lower monthly premiums, lower deductibles and NO out-of-pocket costs for services received from a primary care provider in the plan’s preferred network? Check out the new “Accountable Care Programs” being offered during open enrollment this fall…

FAQs on the New Accountable Care Health Plans in 2016

Benefits That Matter: Caitlin Orchard

This series introduces an employee benefit and the meaning behind it, through the lives of Green River employees and their families. Created by Sheryl Gordon.


Welcome to the family!

What event most recently occurred in your life that got you thinking about benefits?
The most recent event in my life where benefits were at the forefront of my mind was the birth of my son Noah. He was born January 22nd at Good Samaritan Hospital. It was the most precious and wonderful moment of my life.

What specific Green River benefit do you appreciate most?
Before the Community and Technical College system I was in private industry and did not have benefits. I was responsible for covering my own medical costs. I appreciate every single benefit we receive and I have had to use all of them over the past five months for maternity leave.

Tell us about your family members covered by this benefit.
My son and I are covered under my benefits. My husband has his own insurance so we are able to have double coverage for Noah. Most of the expenses were from the hospital and all of his well-baby check-ups. I love the fact my medical insurance allowed me to choose our pediatrician because Noah loves his doctor.

What does that benefit mean to you and loved ones?
In my opinion our benefits are worth their weight in gold. I have always been so thankful for our sick leave, vacation, medical and dental.  We do not know how good we have it until we need to use our benefits. Our medical insurance was a blessing because I had to have a C-section which costs more money and without that coverage we would have been in trouble. My vacation and sick time allowed me to stay home full time with Noah during his first months of life and really learn how to be a mom. Those were precious moments I did not want to miss and luckily I had the leave to cover the time. During his first week of life we were at the pediatrician’s office six times for various reasons, and thank goodness for medical benefits, because I do not know how we would have afforded the expenses. It’s amazing how much health care costs, and we are very fortunate to have these benefits. Again, worth their weight in gold.

What tips would you provide to anyone about to go through a similar life event?
I would recommend using our resources here on campus to plan out any leave you want to take. Meeting with Sheryl in HR and Shirley and Elizabeth in payroll really helped me figure out how to use my leave to maximize my time and money. This goes without saying, but planning with your supervisor is very helpful. Sarah and my team in the Welcome Center were so accommodating and supportive. Lean on other colleagues that have gone through the experience to see what they did and what worked for them. Many of the awesome ladies I work with gave me great advice and helped me plan. Once the baby comes, enjoy every single moment. :)

Where Is My Vision Coverage Anyway?


Vision Care (annual exams and glasses and contacts) is part of your medical coverage. If you belong to a Group Health Plan, you can check out your vision coverage on their Eye Care Page. For a fun, new experience, try loading your photograph into their “eyeglasses tool” to see how you look in different style of frames & glasses).

If you belong to the Uniform Medical Plan, you can review eye care benefits on the Uniform Vision Page.

Why Mental Health Matters at Work – Depression in the Workplace

Depression is often a topic that goes unspoken and it’s time to start talking openly about depression so people can feel empowered to seek help if needed.  Many people suffer in silence, afraid of the stigma associated with depression but depression is like any other treatable medical condition. Risk Factors

Everyone goes through a variety of moods throughout the day. You might be happy one minute and angry about something a few hours later. But depression involves a consistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Approximately one in ten working-age people will experience depression, that’s millions of people and most don’t even realize they are depressed.  They might think “I’m just in a fog” or “having a bad day.”  If those bad days start accumulating you might be depressed. Other symptoms may include trouble making decisions, lack of interest in activities, slowed thoughts and difficulty concentrating.Depresssion in the workforce

Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems and can take a significant toll on employees and employers.  If an employee isn’t sleeping, feels down and hopeless, has difficulty concentrating and a loss of energy, it can be very difficult for them to perform their job.  The impacts on job performance include decreased productivity, absenteeism, and inability to think clearly and make decisions.  No matter what kind of job, depression can quickly create major problems on the job.

With early recognition job performance at work can improve and symptoms of depression can be alleviated with proper diagnosis and treatment.  Most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off, but approximately only one-third of people with diagnosable mental health conditions seek help.

Get the Facts – Recognize the Symptoms

Symptoms & Warning Signs

We all can play a part in helping people get healthy.  People struggling with depression will be less impaired at work if they seek help.  By talking openly about depression, sharing information and solutions we can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness so individuals living with depression feel comfortable reaching out for support.

Often employees fail to seek help until it’s too late.  They are too embarrassed, think they can’t afford it or don’t know where to find resources.  Support and resources are out there – Reach out for help when you need it.

Who should you contact for help? Untreated depression increases health care costs

Spring (and SmartHealth) Is In the Air!

There’s nothing like late spring in Washington


The weather is perfect, the mountains are calling, the water is sparkling. It’s a great time to be outdoors, to enjoy locally grown foods, and be grateful that we live in such a beautiful, wondrous place. And SmartHealth has four new challenges to help you do just that—all while making your well-being a priority AND working towards shaving $125 off your annual medical deductible.  When you reach 2,000 total points by June 30, 2015 you’ll qualify.


Those points really do add up fast!

Here’s how easy it is…

  • Hold a Walking Meeting: Just say no to the conference room! Take a stroll to talk shop and enjoy the beautiful weather at the same time. (200 points)
  • Indoor No More: Get out in the sunshine to enjoy an hour of outdoor exercise at least once a week. (up to 500 points)
  • Plant a Garden: There’s nothing like fresh fruits and vegetables you grow yourself. Unleash you inner farmer and you’ll soon enjoy the bounty! (300 points)
  • Mindful Mondays: Every Monday, take at least two five-minute breaks to stop, look, listen, and reflect. (up to 500 points).

Visit and join a warm weather challenge now!

Portability of Life Insurance


Did you know that if you leave Green River College you can stay enrolled in 100%, 75%, 50%, or 25% of the total amount of your Basic and Supplemental Life Insurance coverage under the portability provision until you reach age 70 by “porting” – without providing Evidence of Insurability?

You can apply to continue your terminated Basic and Supplemental Life Insurance until age 70 if certain conditions are met. You may elect to decrease your coverage continued under the Portability provision; however, you will not be eligible to increase it.

You must apply to continue your coverage under the portability provision within 31 days (60 days if you are retiring) of the date your insurance terminates.

Learn More:

How to Review or Change your Personal & Emergency Contact Information

Have you moved? New phone number? Do you have an emergency contact on file?

Update your personal & emergency contact information

Update your personal & emergency contact information

If you haven’t reviewed or updated your personal or emergency contact information in a while it’s really easy to review and/or update your information online. Human Resources & Legal Affairs depends on your information being accurate. In the unlikely event you should need medical attention or an emergency occurs on a campus, it is extremely important we know who to contact. So many things happen in our life – cell phone numbers change, addresses change, or personal contacts originally listed are no longer appropriate as the emergency contact. Emergency and personal contact information is kept confidential.

Please take 3 minutes out of your day to review your information to ensure we have your most current information. It’s quick and easy!

  1. Login to the HR Information Center using your SID – If you do not know your SID, click on the “Forgot your Employee ID” link below the field. Your Social Security number will not work. (see instructions below if you receive a “No match found” message)


  • Review your address information in the blue field under “Employee Contact Details”.
  •  You will see three “edit” fields
    1. If your address information is incorrect or any fields are incomplete, click the “Edit” button on “Employee Contact Information” and enter your current contact information. Click “Save Information”
    2. Click the “Edit” button on “Emergency Contact” and enter your current emergency contact information. Click “Save Information”
    3. Click the “Edit” button on “Alternate Contact” and enter your current alternate contact information. Click “Save Information”


That’s it! No more paper forms to fill out & turn in!

Note: If you receive a No match found message, follow the error prompt for further instruction, example:


Download a printable version of the HRIC Instructions

Health Benefit Options for Children Nearing Age 26

Adult Children

If your child is nearing age 26 and losing his/her coverage under your own plan here at the college, is COBRA the only alternative if they don’t qualify for coverage at their own employer?

COBRA is extended through PEBB to eligible family members when they lose coverage under your plan. It allows the family member to continue the coverage they had for a while (usually up to 18 months), but COBRA is expensive, with rates generally starting at over $500 per month for a single subscriber.

You may want to compare rates for plans offered through the Washington Health Plan Finder. The Washington Health Plan Finder is the online health insurance marketplace in the state of Washington, created in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. The marketplace operates a web site and a call center (1-855-923-4633) and is a resource for individuals and families to enroll in health insurance plans, and also provides eligible enrollees with access to tax credits. Although the standard Open Enrollment period has closed, losing coverage of your own may qualify you for a “Special Open Enrollment Event” if you act within a certain time period, usually 60 days.

Be healthy!

Thinking About Retirement?

Fun Retirement

As an eligible retiree, you can apply for medical and dental coverage through the PEBB Program for yourself and your eligible family members.  You have 60 days to complete an application to enroll in or defer PEBB retiree coverage after your employment or COBRA coverage ends. How do you enroll? Follow this three-step timeline:

Step 1: Contact the Social Security Administration

About ninety days before your active employment or COBRA ends, contact the Nearest Social Security Office to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B if you or any family members you wish to cover are entitled to Medicare.

Step 2: Request a retiree enrollment packet

Sixty days before your active employment or COBRA ends request a retiree enrollment packet. Call 1-800-200-1004 or 360-725-0440 in the Olympia area. PEBB will send you a Retiree Enrollment Guide including applications and information).

Step 3: Return you completed retiree application

Within sixty days after your active employment or COBRA coverage ends return your completed retiree application and any applicable forms to the PEBB Program at P.O. Box 42684, Olympia, WA 98504-2684.

If you or any covered dependents are entitled to Medicare, you must enroll in Part A and Part B and remain enrolled to keep your PEBB coverage.

2014 FSA and DCAP (Flex Plans) Deadline

Piggy Bank

Employees enrolled in the Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) in 2014 have a grace period to incur expenses until March 15, 2015. Employees may submit claims to Flex-Plan Services (FPS) for reimbursement of 2014 funds no later than March 31, 2015. Funds that are not claimed by March 31, 2015 will be forfeited.

Employees enrolled in the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) in 2014 have until March 31, 2015 to submit claims for expenses incurred through December 31, 2014. Funds that are not claimed by March 31, 2015 will be forfeited.

Long Term Disability Defined


PEBB – What is LTD Insurance and how can I enroll?

PEBB provides long-term disability (LTD) insurance to eligible members through the Standard Insurance Company to eligible state employees. PEBB’s full employee benefits package includes the basic LTD insurance at no cost to you; it provides 60% of the first $400 of your pre-disabililty income, reduced by any deductible income, and benefits start after 90 days.

You can build on your basic by enrolling in the Optional LTD coverage. If you are outside of the “initial 31-day eligibility” (most likely your initial hire date as a PEBB eligible employee), you will need to provide evidence of insurability, depending on what coverage you apply for and when. Optional LTD provides: 60% of your pre-disability earnings (up to $10K) and any benefits paid under the basic plan.

Learn More About LTD

Medical and Dental Plan Verification

PEBB Login Screen

PEBB – How can I find out which medical plan or which dental plan I enrolled in?

That information is always at your fingertips by logging into your My Account feature on the PEBB website. Here you can see which plans you are enrolled in and which family members, if any, you elected to cover. We won’t know who your dentist or doctor is, but you can Contact your Plan to find out the names of the providers you’ve seen in the past, claims history, etc.

Coming to a Wall Near You!

First stop, Enumclaw Campus! Krispy Kremes and posters in hand!

Why is HR putting up new, 2015 labor law posters across main and branch campuses? Employers in the United States are required to display the most current federal and state labor laws. Workplace posters are important because they inform workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities. These posters include the current minimum wage, Job Safety and Health Law, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), Uniformed Services Employment Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and more. If you have questions regarding these laws, please contact Employee and Labor Relations Managers, Barbara Iribarren and Chernenko Wheatley.

Betsy Williams and Beckie Jensen, our first recipients of the 2015 labor posters!

Betsy Williams and Beckie Jensen, our first recipients of the 2015 labor posters!

Links to each poster are listed below and will be coming soon to the GatorNet.

It's official! Enumclaw is ready for 2015!

It’s official! Enumclaw is ready for 2015!

Special Open Enrollment Events

The annual open enrollment period is now over. However, certain live events can trigger special enrollment opportunities.

Did you know that certain events let you make changes to your plans or allow you to enroll a dependent (Outside of the annual Open Enrollment in November)?

Certain events like marriage, birth, adoption, or if an employee or dependent loses other coverage under an employer-based group plan, or a change in employment status may allow you to change PEBB medical or dental plans, add or waive coverage for yourself or dependents or add or remove a dependent from coverage. You will need to complete a new Enrollment/Change form and provide “proof of the event” as well as request the change within 60 days of the special open enrollment event. Learn about Special Open Enrollment Events.

Social Security 101 Workshop

Back by popular demand and in conjunction with Workforce Education, Human Resources is sponsoring our second free workshop on Social Security. Everyone can come (including family members and students). However, each person attending must be registered to reserve space. For example, if bringing your spouse, you must also register them.

Social Security 101 Workshop – Everything You Wanted To Know

A FREE Workshop by the Social Security Administration

  • Retirement Benefits and Eligibility Requirements
  • What Early Retirement Does To Your Benefits
  • How do you qualify for Disability, Survivor, and Spouse Benefits
  • How to use your my Social Security Online Account and other Online Services
  • What is the future of Social Security
  • Understand How to Get the Most From Your Benefit

Please Note – You should create your my Social Security account before attending the class and printout your Social Security Statement. Go to

Guest Speaker

Kirk Larson is the Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist for the Social Security Administration. He has worked with the agency for over 20 years in both technical and supervisory roles. Kirk has presented Social Security information in both the Seattle and San Francisco Regions. He has had several articles published, and has appeared on TV and radio shows to discuss Social Security issues.

Register Now

When: Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Time: 2:30 P.M. – 4 P.M.

Register for this event!