Open Enrollment for 2019 Benefits

Now is the time to evaluate your health care needs and wellness goals…

Are you looking to lower your out of pocket costs by improving your health and wellness in 2019? Open Enrollment is the perfect time to take stock in your health, your plan enrollment and your wellness goals to ensure you have the right level of coverage and the right services for you and your family. Health care is not one size fits all and circumstances change, so you need to evaluate each plan and explore the possibilities to decide what is best for you and your family.

Open Enrollment will take place Saturday, October 6 through Friday, November 2, 2018. This is your chance to enroll or drop benefit coverage, change plans, or add/drop dependents. Changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective on January 1, 2019. Outside of Open Enrollment, changes can only be made if you have a qualifying event.

Come to an Open Enrollment wellness session (dates below) to get a look at all the wellness benefits the County has to offer. Also, you can view plan comparisons, rates, benefit details and enrollment instructions on the HR Employee Portal at the start of Open Enrollment, October 6th. Please come by and learn more about all options available to you and speak to some of our vendors at the in-person sessions.

  • October 12 & 31: Eastern Government Center (3820 Nine Mile Rd.) Multipurpose Room from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • October 17 & 24: Henrico Training Center (7701 East Parham Rd.) from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

What you need to know:

  1. ALL Anthem plan participants will receive new medical insurance cards for 2019 with new group numbers. Please make sure you use the new card for services starting January 1, 2019.
  2. No changes will be made to the Lumenos HSA plan. The rates have been the same since the plan was introduced in 2015! This may be a great option for you.
  3. Delta Dental will continue to offer the same plan options for 2019 with a slight change in rates.
  4. MetLife will continue to provide disability coverage with no changes to rates or benefits offered.
  5. Navia will also continue to provide Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). This year there will be a $50.00 increase to the Health Care FSA limit. The new limit will be $2,650. The Dependent (Day) Care FSA limit will remain at $5,000.

What do you have to do as an employee?

  1. Re-enroll for Flexible Spending Accounts if you wish to participate in 2019.
    1. Note: This is a great pre-tax option so consider using this benefit.
  2. Look at your current plans and make sure they are right for you!
    1. Note: Health care, dental and short-term income protection enrollments will rollover for 2019, unless you change them during Open Enrollment.
  3. Check out Power Henrico for Open Enrollment events, benefits and other wellness information!

Now that you have the overview, plan to attend one of the scheduled Open Enrollment wellness sessions to learn more.

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October is Energy Month!

October marks the start of energy action month, a national effort to raise awareness of energy conservation and efficiency.  There are many ways to save energy at work and in your personal lives so that you’ll not only be conserving resources and improving the environment, you’ll also save money! 

The difference between conservation and efficiency is an important distinction to know.  Conservation refers to using less energy with the tools and technologies that you already have.  Examples of conservation include turning off the lights or setting back the temperature on your thermostat.  Efficiency means improving on your systems to perform the same function while using less energy.  Examples of efficiency include changing out light bulbs to more efficient LEDs or adding insulation to a building.  Conservation measures cost nothing—they are simple behavior changes.  Efficiency measures may come with a cost but in time you will see a return on investment with energy savings. 

Here are five simple conservation measures that you can practice at work or at home:

  1. Turn off the lights when not in use.  You’ve heard it 1000 times and it remains the easiest way to conserve energy! 
  2. Put your computer in sleep mode when not in use.  Despite their name, screen savers do not save energy. Sleep mode uses practically no energy and allows you to return to your work fairly quickly.  You could also turn your monitor(s) off when not in use if you prefer that to using sleep mode.
  3. Think before printing.  Do you really need to print that?  Printing uses energy and paper.  If you must print, use the shared office printer instead of individual desktop printers so only one piece of equipment has to be kept on. 
  4. Use your window blinds smartly.  To avoid heat gain in warm weather and make the most of passive heat in cold weather, lower blinds on hot days and raise them on cold days. Also, close them on cold nights before leaving the office or when you are at home.
  5. Unplug chargers and electronics when not in use.  Small amounts of electricity, called standby power or vampire power, are drawn by chargers, small appliances and electronics when plugged in.  Unplug or use a power strip that can be switched off when these items aren’t needed.

The Henrico County Energy Management program strives to reduce energy use and costs in County buildings and operations, and to foster a culture of sustainability and stewardship.  The Energy Fair is held twice a year to help County employees, residents and businesses learn about energy and sustainability products, services and resources available in the Richmond area. 

This year’s fall fair will be held at the Western Government Center on Friday October 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The fair is free and open to the public.  Gifts and goodies will be available for all attendees while supplies last.  This year’s gift is a portable power bank—get there early to make sure you get one!  You can learn more at https://henrico.gov/calendar/fall-energy-fair/. If you have questions, please contact Carrie Webster by email at [email protected] or by phone (804)501-5763.

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Deferred Comp- Start Contributing Today!

One year can make a difference!

Waiting just one year to start saving and investing in deferred comp may cost you more than you realize. The sooner you start to save and invest, the sooner your money can start working for you. Having a VRS retirement benefit is an important step in the right direction, but that benefit on its own may not be enough for you to retire. So, get started contributing to deferred comp now!

Even investing a small amount now can really add up over time. What’s most important is to just get started. Then, if you increase your contribution on a regular basis, the impact to your paycheck will not seem too great. The bottom line, saving today will definitely help you down the road when you retire.

There are also tax benefits for participating in this 457-deferred compensation plan. You can contribute pre-tax money to decrease your overall tax burden now. Or, you also have the option of contributing to a post-tax ROTH account. Why is ROTH a great option? You will pay taxes based on your current tax rate now and, if your tax bracket is higher later in life, you avoid paying higher taxes when you withdraw funds in retirement!

It’s too late if you wait until you think you are ready to retire. Pick the age you want to stop working and meet with our 457-deferred compensation plan advisor to set your goals. Your journey to retirement savings needs to start today!

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Solving the Nutrition Puzzle

Most of us want to “eat right,” but knowing that AND sticking to it can be a challenge. Personal preference, cultural influences, time, budget and social environment all contribute to our food choices. In addition, the constant flow of changing nutrition information can also make it difficult to make those choices easier.

So, what should you eat?

Start by taking a closer look at your current dietary patterns and identify the chances for improvement. It’s not a single nutrient or food that might be keeping you from your weight loss goal. The combination of foods eaten on a regular basis may be hindering progress. Food journaling can be a useful tool because you can see patterns of behavior or attitudes about food that are barriers to change. An honest assessment of what and why you are making certain choices will allow you to begin making small changes towards a dietary pattern that supports your weight loss and health goals.

Deciding on a dietary pattern:

There are many good options out there for healthy eating patterns. When making the decision about what type of “diet” to choose, keep in mind your current lifestyle and what kind of changes are realistic for you. There are many factors to consider, family or social structure, time for meal planning, prep and cooking, past successes or failures and your specific weight loss goals.

Although everyone’s eating pattern will look different, there are a few basic rules to keep in mind. Research shows that a dietary pattern high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, unsaturated oils and fish while low in total meat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, sodium, and moderate in dairy products and alcohol is associated with more favorable outcomes related to body weight or the risk of obesity. Regardless of your pattern, your diet must include a reduction in energy intake (calories) in order to achieve any weight loss.

You may find it helpful to base your pattern on an already established one. Remember to modify based on your personal preferences AND what is realistic for you. Here are a few suggestions that are supported by research and may be effective for weight loss and weight maintenance:

Mediterranean Diet: easy to follow, safe, meets government guidelines and supports weight loss and heart health.

  • Emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs.
  • Limits red meat, sugar and saturated fat.

DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension): benefits weight loss and heart health.

  • Emphasis on nutrients (potassium, calcium, protein and fiber) found in fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy foods.

MIND Diet: aims to prevent mental decline with brain healthy foods.

  • Emphasis on green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, whole grains, beans, fish, poultry and olive oil.
  • Limits red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, sweets, fried and fast foods.

Volumetrics Diet: Based on the theory that your body likes a certain feel (volume) of food.

  • Emphasis on low-energy, highly dense foods. Encourages consumption of foods with a high-water content like soups, fruits, vegetables, non-fat dairy.
  • This diet is safe, easy to follow and no foods are off limits.

Committing to a new dietary pattern can be difficult and weight loss can be slow. There will be feelings of success combined with frustration along the way. To stay committed to your new lifestyle, maintain a sense of intention and focus, keep your thoughts positive, turn thoughts into actions, use your mistakes as learning opportunities, and make yourself a priority.

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Conserving History to Provide for the Future

Henrico County is always looking towards the future. Recently, this has meant preserving a piece of history so future generations can learn and enjoy our country’s past. Through a $1.5-million contribution, Henrico County now maintains over 400 acres of the historic Malvern Hill Farm. This project has been a collaborative effort for many years and the successful completion of the project is thanks to multiple County employees, departments and the County Manager.

Malvern Hill Farm had been in the Ferguson family since the 1930’s. Earlier this year, a local non-profit organization, Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC), bought it from them to preserve its history. “This is extremely valuable property,” said Deputy County Manager for Community Development Randy Silber, “Because all three of the American battles—War of 1812, Revolutionary War and the Civil War—had some engagements of action on the Malvern Hill property. It is the only land in the United States that can say that.” Also, since these battles, the Malvern Hill property has remained virtually untouched, which is a huge bonus for the historical preservation of the land and almost unheard of when it comes to historic sites in the United States.

“We would like to be able to simply use the property for historical interpretation purposes,” said Silber. When looking to the future for this property, changes, if any, would be very minimal due to a Department of Historic Resources Conservation easement on the land. This easement makes it so that only two percent of the entire property can be developed. Hiking and biking trails, historical interpretive centers, picnic shelters, parking and open fields will be the principal uses for the land. Creating and maintaining a space that people can use to enjoy the outdoors along with some history is less common these days, so the Malvern Hill property will be a breath of fresh air for everyone. A small portion of the property will be made into a canoe and kayak landing area, restrooms and parking. The Recreation and Parks Department will maintain the grounds after completion. Not only will residents be able to enjoy this land, but the employees of Henrico County as well.

“The County is always looking to the future to provide a quality living environment for residents. It also adds value to anyone who lives and works in the County,” said Silber. So, whether you enjoy the open fields of Malvern Hill or venture into the nearby National Park Services property, you will not only be experiencing a part of history, but a preserved part of our Nation’s future. That is an accomplishment worth contributing towards.

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Fixing IT Up!

BOOM! Clank! BzZzz!

If you have walked around the second floor of the Administration Building, down the IT hallway, or even outside, you have probably heard one, if not all, of these sounds over the past few weeks. That is because the Department of Information Technology (IT) is getting a much-needed upgrade to their workspace.

Earlier this year, unveiling of the new data center on the third floor of the Administration Building happened, kicking off the entire IT remodel process. The original data center, built in 1976, had not been significantly updated since its installation. The completion of the new center shrunk the size of IT’s footprint by 3,400 square feet just moving it from the second to the third floor, allowing all the space it once occupied to be converted into offices. “We are excited,” said George Bains, Assistant Director of Information Technology, “A big part of this lets the department as a whole, look at everything new again.”

Not only was the data center moved, but the office space on the second floor is being completely renovated. IT is even getting new windows! The construction on the second floor is so big that it must be done in two phases in order to accommodate everyone’s work environment. Phase One should be completed in early October when the construction crew turns over half of the space (what was the old data center) to IT. They then have to build their new desk areas, assemble furniture and get everyone moved to the new side before demolition starts on the half they just vacated.

Along with all the new offices being built, IT will be gaining a large conference room, multiple collaboration rooms, open meeting areas, standing white board walls and did we mention new windows? “It has been exciting to see we were able to include this as a capital project. It allows us to access creativity we have not been able to before,” said Bains. Not only is collaboration happening between the construction crew and IT but General Services and Schools all have a hand in this renovation project too. When it is all said and done, 16 school employees will now be located in the Administration building, along with the majority of the IT staff.

Completion of all construction, painting and moving should be done by March 2019, and Henrico County will see the benefits of this project for years to come. Through creativity, collaboration and seeing beyond the walls of IT, this renovation project is bringing our information technology office space into the 21st century.

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HENRICO COUNTY WALKS to Better Health!

Do you know that on average, every minute of walking can extend your life by one and a half to two minutes? The benefits of walking are endless! Not only does it help to prevent chronic diseases, it also gives you more energy, makes you feel good, helps you to relax, reduces stress and assists with weight management. Walking is a great choice for regular, healthy exercise. It is safe AND effective!

To address growing health concerns and to keep our employees in the best health possible, we are launching a new Health Trip initiative. HENRICO COUNTY WALKS is for all County employees to focus on the importance of regular physical activity to maintain physical and emotional well-being. It’s a fact – regular physical activity is essential for good health!

Every nine weeks employee teams will walk toward a new destination city. You can join at any time! The journey begins in Augusta, Maine and heads first to the Big Apple – New York City! To cover the 386-mile distance, employees can form a team of four, where each team member should walk two miles a day, five days a week, to stay on track! This goal makes it easy to achieve 150 minutes of physical activity per week, supporting the American Heart Association’s physical activity goal to reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. For employees who are already physically active and like to jog or run on a regular basis there are options to form a team of three, two or one. These options allow smaller teams to cover the same distance with a greater per week distance to be achieved by each team member.

From New York City, walkers will head to our very own capital city, Richmond. After that, the next stop is Charleston, South Carolina and then on to the final destination city, Orlando, Florida. To assist employees with locating feasible walking routes, the County’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) office has mapped out walking routes at each County facility, including libraries, parks, schools and general government buildings. These recommended walking routes are available to view on the HENRICO COUNTY WALKS Story Map. This GIS site has several site selection tabs to assist employees in searching for a convenient and safe path close to their work location. Employees can select their work location and the recommended walking route is highlighted on an aerial map. A description of the walking route is provided including the route distance, surface-type, and step-by-step directions on how to navigate the route. Locations that do not have a feasible walking route are given the recommendation to walk at the nearest park. You may preview the HENRICO COUNTY WALKS Story Map today.

Getting started on your HENRICO COUNTY WALKS journey takes a few simple steps and can happen at any point of the journey:

  1. Form a team.
  2. Think of a fun team name and officially register by completing the registration form.
  3. Submit your registration form by September 7th to Liz Stovall.

Before you hit the road, stop by the HENRICO COUNTY WALKS information page on the employee portal for complete program details.

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