Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Big changes coming to the IBM Medicare options in 2014

I don't have the package yet but someone sent me the following link:

There is a video on the website that is worth watching but it is basically content free when it comes to details. 

They use the word "Exchange" in the description which is unfortunate because people will get confused that this is somehow related to the Affordable Care Act.  It is NOT.  What IBM is doing is basically offloading our health insurance benefits to a third party who then decides what options to offer to us and at what price based on whatever subsidy IBM pays them.  My guess is IBM will freeze or shrink that payment over the years so our insurance benefit will eventually offer not much. We don't know what the offerings are yet but there are a few big changes that I think I see but don't completely understand. 

It looks like we will be offered traditional Medigap policies.  That means they are subject to the state Medigap rules.  In some states there are pre-existing condition wait periods and/or if you didn't buy a Medigap when you first turned 65 you can never buy one.  There may be a "guaranteed right" issue that can be used to override the second condition.  I don't know.  There will also now be zip code based premiums for Medigaps.  That means that policies in New York will be more expensive than policies in, say, Ohio.  Also, if you get any kind of subsidy from IBM (e.g., part B premium payments) IBM will now put that money into an HRA and then you have to file claims against that HRA to access the money.

More to come - just wanted to give you an early warning. 

Here's my biggest fear for our future - the next thing IBM will offload is our pension plan ala what some other companies have done.  That means they will be converted into an insurance company annuity or will offer a deeply discounted lump sum payment.  So, any ERISA rules governing the pension no longer apply.

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