When to Enroll
*STARS Employee Self-Service will only open on Harris County Network
1. WHEN YOU’RE HIRED
Benefits begin on the first day of the pay period following 45 days of continuous employment as a regular-position employee unless a County policy in effect at the time specifies a different period. Click below to learn more about enrolling in benefits as a new employee. If you are already covered as a dependent on the Harris County health plan by a parent or spouse, that coverage will cease when your coverage goes into effect. You may not waive your own coverage to remain on your parent's or spouse’s plan.
2. DURING OPEN ENROLLMENT
This is a great time to review benefits and make any needed updates. You can change your benefit choices, add and/or drop dependents, purchase or discontinue optional life insurance or optional long-term disability, and enroll or disenroll in a flexible spending account.
For the 2024 plan year, the Open Enrollment period is October 16 - November 3, 2023. Visit the STARS site (https://stars-hr.hctx.net/) and log into your Employee Self-Service portal, then Benefit Details to begin. If you are adding dependents, please have your necessary documentation on hand to upload.
- Dependents added during Open Enrollment will be covered beginning December 30, 2023.
- Dependents dropped during Open Enrollment will be covered through December 29, 2023.
- If you don’t make any changes, your current benefits will stay the same. If you do make plan and optional benefits changes during Open Enrollment, they will take effect January 1, 2024.
If you are a new hire or newly eligible (including spouses and children) for Optional Term Life Insurance, you can elect up to the Guaranteed Issue amount, without having to submit Evidence of Insurability (EOI). The Guaranteed Issue amount will be indicated for you in STARS. If you have had a family status change within the past 31 days, you also may elect up to the Guaranteed Issue amount, without submitting EOI. All others, including those reinstating or increasing coverage must submit EOI. An application for EOI will be provided and you are required to return it directly to BlueCross BlueShield of Texas so they can determine whether you or your covered dependents are eligible for this program.
If this is your first time to enroll in optional long-term disability, an application for Evidence of Insurability will be provided from BlueCross BlueShield of Texas when the new plan year goes into effect. You will be required to complete this application and return it directly to BlueCross BlueShield of Texas and they will make the determination of whether or not you are eligible for this program.
3. AFTER QUALIFIED LIFE EVENTS
Life happens, and your benefits plan has the flexibility to adjust with you. When you experience a qualified life event, log into STARS Employee Self-Service >> Benefits Details to submit your change request within the same calendar year the event takes place unless otherwise noted. Please note that STARS is only accessible within the Harris County network.
The following are qualified life events that allow you to make changes to your benefits:
- Divorce – must submit changes within 60 days to avoid forfeiture of COBRA rights
- Adoption or placement of a foster child
- Spouse and/or dependent gains or loses coverage through employment or other insurance provider
- Significant change in the financial terms of health benefits provided through a spouse’s employer or another carrier
- Unpaid leave of absence taken by employee or spouse
- Changing a dependent care provider or having a significant increase or decrease in provider payment
- Change in Medicare or Medicaid eligibility status
- Loss of State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), but not gain of SCHIP benefits
All regular-position employees are required to enroll in the Harris County health plan. Those allowed to voluntarily waive include:
- Retired military members who are currently covered by TRICARE.
- New employees covered by Medicare.
- The employee must be the policyholder of either TRICARE or Medicare and not a covered dependent. Proof of coverage is required with the form.
- Visit Resources to obtain the voluntary waiver form. This form must be completed and returned to email@example.com every open enrollment cycle to continue waiving your benefits.
- For new employees, this form must be received before your benefits become effective. Otherwise, your next opportunity to waive will be during open enrollment.
Coverage for Newborns
Cigna provides automatic coverage for newborns of mothers insured by the plan for the first 31 days from the date of birth. For your newborn to remain covered beyond 31 days, you must add him/her to the plan. If you add your newborn to your plan after 31 days, coverage will not be retroactive to the date of birth, and you will be responsible for the medical claims incurred during the uncovered period.