This year’s annual open enrollment for active railroad employees covered by the National Railroad Health & Welfare plans (NRC-UTU and GA 23000) may be completed online during September and October.

You start the open enrollment process by going to the “Alerts and Important Dates” section on the Railroad Information Depot home page ( During the open enrollment period in September and October, you can link directly into the railroad enrollment services secured portal.

The new web-based open enrollment period will be available 24/7, and will provide the following capabilities:

• Step-by-step review of personalized benefit election choices with links to everything needed to enroll for the upcoming year.

• Links to your medical provider’s network.

• A quick and easy way to update your information.

• The ability to add, delete, and/or change dependent information. (If you’re adding a dependent who is not listed, you will be required to send in the specified documentation before the dependent can be added to the plan. Information on what is needed and where to send it will be provided on the site.)

• The option to review enrollment information in Spanish.

• Flexibility to make multiple changes during the open enrollment period.

• An immediate confirmation statement once you complete your selections.

If you use the online portal, there is no need to mail any paper enrollment forms.

Additional information will be mailed to eligible railroad workers in September by Railroad Enrollment Services.

For those unable to enroll online, instructions on how to obtain a paper kit will be in the September mailing. You will not need to access the Railroad Enrollment Services portal if you elect to keep your current benefit options for the 2013 calendar year or do not choose to opt out.

For assistance with the online enrollment website, call Railroad Enrollment Services at (800) 753-2692.

UTU members with questions on how the Affordable Care Act will affect them and their families should visit the websites of their health care insurance carriers.

For UTU members covered under the national railroad medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits plans, links to your health insurance providers’ websites can be found at by clicking on the “Health Care” link at the top of the home page.

In addition to accessing the UTU health care web pages for information, also view the Railroad Information Depot, accessible at:

Following is general information on the Affordable Care Act:

* Those with health care insurance will continue to be covered under those plans.

* Those with health care insurance no longer will pay out-of-pocket for certain preventive care services when they are rendered by a network provider. The purpose is to promote wellness and reduce the high cost of treating and managing disease. For a list of preventive service covered, use the following link:

This provision could prove a significant cost saver for UTU members covered by the national railroad health care plan because copays will be eliminated for many preventive health care services.

“When we entered the most recent round of negotiations with the carriers, our strategy was to hold the monthly cost sharing premium under $200 — rather than allow it to escalate to $300 or more — in exchange for somewhat higher copays,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey. “The Affordable Care Act now eliminates many of those copays. Our winning strategy will prove very beneficial to our members, who now will save out-of-pocket for many health care services while still having one of the lowest cost-sharing premiums in the public and private sectors.”


* Employer plans will be required to provide uniform summaries of benefits and coverage to participants.

* The Medicare hospital insurance tax rate of 1.45 percent per paycheck remains unchanged for those earning less than $200,000 annually ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly). The tax rate will be raised only for those with higher incomes.

* The Affordable Care Act ensures your right to appeal health insurance plan decisions — to ask that your plan reconsider its decision to deny payment for a service or treatment.

* It also contains a new Patient’s Bill of Rights, which can be accessed at the following website:
* Dependents will remain covered by their parents’ health care plans until age 26.

* Insurance companies no longer may deny health care due to pre-existing conditions or cancel coverage for people who become sick.

* No longer are there lifetime dollar limits on health care benefits.

* Retirees covered by Medicare already have saved $3.7 billion on prescription drugs in the Part D “donut hole” since the law was enacted, and will continue to save on prescriptions as the “donut hole” closes over the next eight years.

As more information becomes available on how the Affordable Care Act affects UTU members and their families, it will be reported at and in the UTU News.

Railroad employees and/or their eligible dependents covered under the national railroad medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits plans may now find information about those benefits on a single web page.

The Railroad Information Depot webpage address is 

Note that this web site pertains only to the nationally negotiated railroad health and welfare plans. If you and/or your eligible dependents are not covered by those benefits plans – and this includes Amtrak employees – you should continue to seek information about your health care benefits from your employer.

Each of the benefits administrators for rail employee health care insurance negotiated under the national railroad medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits plans hosts a home page at the Railroad Information Depot. The providers include Aetna, Highmark, MetLife, Medco, vsp, and United Healthcare.

By logging on to, rail employees will find a central point of access for information about health care benefits, regardless of which benefits administrator provides coverage.

Here are some of the categories that will be available at the new website:

* Information on completing a health risk assessment to help you stop smoking, lose weight or become a happier person.

* Tips on reducing risks of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases that are largely preventable.

* Alerts and important dates regarding annual open enrollment periods.

* Current topics of interest and news on specific health issues.

* On-line access to each of the summary plan descriptions.

* Information on medical care, mental health, substance abuse, disease management, wellness programs, pharmacy, dental care, life insurance, vision care, and sickness benefits – regardless of the health care benefits administrator.

* Links to network providers, helpful tools and educational materials, contact information, and the various forms necessary for filing for benefits.

* A dedicated retirement section providing information and links to assist you in transitioning into retirement.

* Railroad Enrollment Services information to ensure you understand who is eligible for coverage under your plan and the documentation required.

Once at the website, you will be able to navigate over a topic to read more about what it offers; and, if it’s what you are looking for, you will need only to click on the topic to find more in-depth information.

Again, the website is: