I was able to get in touch with a friend of mine who worked at Dupont and asked him about his Extend Health (EH) selection of insurance plans. I am really frustrated and disappointed with what he said. It appears Extend Health will not be negotiating premium prices with insurance companies. He said there was no premium price break in EH offerings. That means a medigap plan monthly premium will be exactly the same in the open market as via EH. I believe this premium pricing will be true for IBM employees as well. Otherwise, Dupont would not be very happy that EH gives IBM retirees a better deal than Dupont employees! After all - isn't EH supposed to have the leverage of over 500,000 retirees to do insurance plan price negotiations. To put it succently - WTF.
So, the truth EH is nothing more than an insurance agent and an administrator of the IBM HRA accounts.
Surely, IBM is paying EH to "support" us. Seems to me we'd be better off by having IBM just give us the HRA money. The reason they won't do that is I bet they are counting on a number of people not understanding the whole thing and leaving that money on the table.
I really have tried to not use this blog to blow off steam about IBM and will try to get back some of my composure for future postings. But I have to say that this is truly a low blow by IBM. Whatever happened to the company that had a conscious, that acknowledged that employees were the underpinning of its success. Had it not been for hundreds of thousands of dedicated employees in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and particularly in the1990s- when we really held it together - there would be no IBM.
OK - back to business. YOU MUST find out what Medicare insurance plans cost in your zip code. You do that by first going to www.medicare.gov to find out who will sell plans in your zip code. Then you contact your state's health insurance assistance department aka your state SHIP and ask them for policy prices in your state. To find out how to contact your ship go to: https://shiptalk.org/public/home.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f.
DECIDE WHAT INSURANCE YOU WANT BEFORE YOU CALL EXTEND HEALTH IN OCTOBER.
I also think you should write to Dr. Rhee and tell him what you think of this switch to Extend Health: firstname.lastname@example.org