Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IBM Extend Health Enrollment Experience ---- Update and Confusion

Written on 10/30/13 -- Correction and Update
I just got off the phone with a friend who tried to "enroll" in the same drug plan he already has. He was told that he cannot do that because then Extend Health will not be the insurance agent on record and he will not be entitled to his HRA subsidy. He talked to three different EH people and they all said the same thing. He now has to pick a new drug plan because it is still better to do that then to buy an EH medigap plan which is substantially more expensive than what he can get on the open market.

Even though I asked an agent before I enrolled if we could use the same part D plans as we already had and then I asked the enrollment agent again when we enrolled if we could just reenroll in the same plan - they both are wrong. I am told that our enrollment will be rejected. Now, when will they tell us this? Beats me. I was going to just let it go until they caught it but am not sure that is a good idea. I just spent a couple of hours trying to sort through our alternative choices. None of which are great.
So, I called Extend Health once I decided on the changes and explained the situation.  The Benefits Agent said there was no need to change a thing as my spouse and I are properly enrolled.  This is insane ---- just insane.  I will just wait it out and see what happens.
Written on 10/22/13
Today my spouse and I enrolled in Extend Health plans so we can get our subsidies.  The call took approximately one hour and most of that time was spent listening to boiler plate scripts and/or repeating our names and addresses so that we could be recorded for each plan we enrolled into.  We each enrolled in a part D prescription drug plan that we already are using so that we can get our subsidies and we each enrolled in the VSP vision plan. We did not enroll in a dental plan as the one that was offered was worthless.  I told them we did not want to setup any automatic premium payments to be paid out of our checking account for any of the insurance plans but at step 2 of the enrollment process the step 2 agent insisted that it was required by VSP to do so.  I relented and let a one time payment be taken from our checking account for the VSP plan.  Yes, there are two different agents for the enrollment process.  The first agent "helps" select a plan and then you are transferred to a second agent that actually does the enrollment.
I asked the first EH agent if they could sell me a medigap F high deductible plan from Banker Conseco as that is one of the least expensive F-HD plans available in my zip code.  They said they could not.  I didn't think they could  but it was worth asking.  I have an appointment with a Banker Conseco agent later this week to buy the medigap plans directly from the insurance company. 
I also told the first EH agent that I knew exactly what I wanted and to please skip any discussion of the plans available in my zip code.  They quickly did so and did not try to pursue it at all. I believe that is why our enrollment process only took a hour.  Although the enrollment process went smoothly, it is still a ridiculous process.  There is so much script reading and prerecorded listening to make sure EH cannot be accused of misleading an enrollee that it is truly obnoxious.  At one point as we listened to one of the prerecordings we could hear the agent yawning.  That was a highlight of the whole process!
I have been writing much about being sure you know exactly what you want before your enrollment appointment.  My experience confirmed how really important it is to do so. 

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