Sept. 13-26, 2002
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For your benefit
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For your benefit

By Anne Bromley

When times are tough, it’s not a bad idea to reflect on things we have, rather than on what we don’t. Take employee benefits, for example.

Among the array of lesser-known benefits offered to full-time U.Va. employees are long-term care insurance, a discount eye care plan, partial orthodontics coverage, discounted alternative medical therapies and paid time off for community service.

Enrollment in the Virginia Sickness & Disability Program will reopen between October and January for those employees in the previous plan who would like to join VSDP. Called negative enrollment, employees will be automatically switched to the VSDP unless they opt out.

Employees having trouble reading this page might find U.Va.’s vision care discount plan, offered through First American Vision Services, helpful. Participating eye-care professionals give discounted fees and prices to employees and their family members enrolled in the U.Va. Health Plan. Individuals must present the separate FAVS membership card, sent to employees Jan. 1, to the doctor or optometrist they are visiting. An additional card can be requested by sending e-mail to

The eye exam fee can be up to 20 percent off. Frames for eyeglasses are up to 50 percent less than retail, and the discount for the lenses is up to 45 percent. Corrective eye surgery also costs less.

Members and their dependents may use the program as often as needed during the calendar year. There are no restrictions on eyewear selections.

When the bane of parents with pre-teens arises — the need for braces — 50 percent coverage can ease the sting of those orthodontist bills. Dental coverage, up to $1,000 per year, also includes full payment for two semiannual check-ups, plus partial coverage for other dental work.

For those who have found alternative health care practices helpful, discounts of up to 25 percent are also available for acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic care through a special Southern Health Services program, Southern Advantage. No doctor referral is required, and there are no limits on visits. Dietary supplements and vitamins can be purchased at discounted prices a Southern Advantage link to

Long-term care insurance recently became an employer-paid benefit as part of the Virginia Sickness & Disability Program, in which most classified employees are enrolled. As distinct from long-term disability, which replaces income, this kind of insurance pays for institutionalized care, such as a nursing home, or partially pays for daily home care for people who meet certain criteria. The program reimburses actual expenses up to a specified daily limit and is available to full-time salaried classified staff, and — if they apply and are approved — their spouses, parents and parents-in-law. Premiums can be paid through payroll deduction.

The opportunity to purchase optional coverage has been available for several years, and many employees now in VSDP have decided to keep both plans. Academic and administrative faculty, plus Medical Center employees, may purchase long-term care insurance from Aetna or, for faculty, from TIAA-CREF.

As the school year begins, employees can think about using community service leave to help in their children’s classrooms. The state gives employees a maximum of 16 hours of paid community service leave per calendar year that can be used in hourly portions. Community service includes volunteering at school, as well as working with emergency relief or welfare organizations. A person’s efforts should be “hands on” — it wouldn’t be appropriate to go to a planning meeting or social event for the organization providing community services.

For a summary of benefits, go to

For information on discount plans for alternative therapies and products, go to Southern Health Services: and click on “members”

For information on long-term care, contact Aetna at 1-877-894-2470 or


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