Friday, August 30, 2013

A Little More Information

I did a little research about private exchanges and urge you do do the same - I just used google and found several articles about how companies are moving to these exchanges. I also went online to and created a profile, scheduled an appointment on October 1st. I tried looking at the plans that will be offered but that information won't be available until October! They will be sending me a BS enrollment guide now that I have built a profile but that will be a generic description of the types of plans that will be offered.

From everything I have read so far it appears that we will be offered the same type of plans that are in the general market place. If you look on page 6 of the big brochure you will receive you see the generic options. That probably means offerings like the IBM secondary plan of $0 with a $4000+ deductible or Aetna Integration A will be gone - there is nothing like that in the marketplace - certainly not at that price - unless IBM subsidizes such an offering ... it doesn't sound like that is their plan. I think what IBM is doing is paying Extend Health to be the total administrator for selecting plans from the marketplace and that Extend Health will have more negotiating power with insurance companies because they have a huge pool of people who are generally healthier even though they are old farts because they tend to be upper middle class so EH will get "better" premium prices than one can get from AARP, for example. The interesting thing is if we have a claim complaint we have to deal with the specific insurance company --- not Extended Health and IBM is now totally out of it.

There is also a lot about an "HRA". I think I know what that is and, once again, IBM is messing around with people.  I know someone who retired in 1996 and gets a subsidy to pay his part B medicare premiums. It caps at $800 and he has to file to receive it - the deadline to do so is one year later. Well, now that subsidy goes to an HRA account with Extend Health. In order to receive it one must be using Extend Health insurance plans (even though some people don't want to use IBM offerings) and the withdrawal claims must be done within the claim year. Shame on IBM! People who retired earlier than 1996 had an even better deal - and, of course, are older - so the likelihood that they will screw it up and IBM will not have to pay the money is even better!

I am also wary that if you decide not to use Extend Health or screw up and forget to sign up you lose this health benefit for the rest of your life. I don't know what "Access Only" retirees are but it applies to them - it is not clear if it applies to us. They are really messing with people because they know old people do screw up.

Several friends and I plan to meet in the next week or two and create a list of questions. Then we will each call the information number to ask the questions and compare our answers. Stay tuned!

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