Wednesday, October 30, 2013

IBM Extend Health Transition IBM PR - Retirees "Like" This Change. Really?

The IBM public relations team keeps saying there are many retirees that like the change IBM is making for Medicare eligible retiree insurance plans.  I wonder how many is "many".  After all 1% of 110,000 people is a lot of people.  But it certainly isn't a majority.
I do believe there are some people who like this deal better.  Who are they and why?
  • Retirees with spouses under 65: 

    They were required to pick from the IBM medical/prescription drug plan choices to be able to cover both themselves and their spouses. IT WAS IBM THAT FORCED THIS RESTRICTION.  IBM's supplemental insurance plan didn't really start paying until out of pocket expenses were $4000.  There were a few things immediately covered like preventive and diagnostic health checkups but the medical coverage didn't start until you had about $15-20,000 in medical bills. That's a lot of doctor bills (most of a hospital short stay bill is covered by Medicare A).   The prescription drug plan also might not have been a good plan for covering drugs used by the couple. An easy fix would have been to allow the couple to each enroll in different plans.
  • People living in rural areas:
    Sometimes people have difficulty finding local doctors - particularly for specialties.  Joining a localized HMOs may be the best way to remedy the problem.  Perhaps IBM HMO offerings might not  provide the best doctor networks available in the area.  There is no easy remedy for this kind of problem.
  • Better Medicare Advantage plans:
    There are a lot of MA plans in the open market that provide different doctor networks or different benefits than the Medicare Advantage plans offered by IBM.  Maybe the doctors a retiree wanted to see were in a network plan not offered by IBM.
HOWEVER - the Aetna PPO and HMO offerings from Retiree Health Access were some of the BEST Medicare Advantage plans I have seen and I have seen a lot because of the volunteer work I do. It's hard to believe there are better ones available.  The Aetna Integration offerings are also spectacular offerings. Integration A is almost equal to a medigap F no deductible plan.  It doesn't get better than that. The Met Life Dental group plan is one of the best plans available.  All these plans were excellent price performers.  I believe IBM had an easy fix for the retirees with spouses under 65.  If they subtract out those retirees - I wonder how many people are happy with this change versus how many people are unhappy about it.  When I think back on the sea of confused and distressed faces of the retirees in the Poughkeepsie meeting in September - I think I know the answer.

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