Friday, December 6, 2013

IBM's latest HRA Beneficiary letter is laugh out loud funny and pathetic

When I got the mail today I saw both my spouse and I had received yet another "Important Information About Your IBM Benefits" letter.  When I saw the letter I immediately wondered what new way they thought of to squeeze more money out of old people.  And, they are indeed squeezing away.  They are now at the bottom of the barrel scrounging for nickels and pennies.
Both my spouse and I worked for IBM so we each get our own subsidy. IBM just informed us that we are not eligible to leave survivor benefits to each other.  HOWEVER, if we do not return the form selecting NO survivor benefits our HRA will still be reduced!  Also, if we had a dependent and wanted to leave survivor benefits to that dependent - only one of us is allowed to do so. 
We had no intention of leaving benefits to each other as it made no sense for us since we are both in good health (knock on wood).  But, we do know a couple where the very ill spouse was going to do it so that the remaining spouse would get the extra benefit.  My guess is other couples had decided to do the same thing.  It must have messed up the "steal money from them" spreadsheet numbers and the bonus increases that would come from stealing old people money - ergo, this iteration of letters was sent out to make sure we understood the money is theirs and to not mess with it. 
This latest action by IBM has moved the whole "transition" into the realm of being a ten act play in the Theatre of the Absurd.


  1. I missed one word in the following sentence:
    My goal has always been to spend energy fighting the new way of obtaining health care for IBM retirees It should read: My goal has always been NOT to spend energy fighting the new way of obtaining health care for IBM retirees

    1. I saw your post about having problems adding comments to this blog - sorry it took so long to answer because it went to spam. I chose the 2nd level of blog comment setting that requires user registration - called "open id" to allow people to comment. The first level is anonymous. The 2nd level requires some form of id to register before commenting - not just a Google id (which is 3rd level). I tried using the 1st setting of anonymous but then got a comment from someone trying to sell Medicare insurance which was annoying. I set it to the 2nd level to stop that. Others have been able to post comments so I am not sure why your comments aren't posting (nor why yours went to spam).

  2. Plato I will post this and hope that it goes. For those reading this blog here are some other websites that are being used by IBM Retirees and this new way of Health Care Life.
    IBM Blogs and Yahoo Groups:

    From Home Page on the Updated and Improved EH/IBM Website
    Go to these links:
    Read the New Approach to Retiree Health Care Coverage
    New Approach to Retiree Health Care Coverage ►
    Extend Health Getting Started Guide ►
    HRA: How It Works ► This is where you will find the eligible reimbursement list.

    IBM Frequently Asked Questions
    Download the FAQS ►

    Now for some more good news:
    IBM Dedicated Feedback Mailbox:
    This is what we pushed for. Please feedback constructive comments to this site to show both IBM and Extend Health that the roll-out of this program has left a lot to be desired. Remember, if we don't take the time to generate feedback then we have no one to blame but ourselves if problems exist. Thank you.


    1. Thank you for posting that information. I agree about providing constructive feedback to Towers Watson. However, I also believe retirees should keep pressure on IBM executives and hold them accountable for how poorly they vetted Towers Watson aka Extend Health and how miserly they are with the HRA beneficiary funding. This decision significantly affected the lives of 110,000 retirees who deserved better treatment for their earned service. IBM executives need to face negative consequences for losing their moral compass and only focusing on how this is good for IBM's bottom line. Complaining to Extend is good. Telling the shareholders and the board of directors that the IBM executive team is ruthless and incompetent is also good.

  3. I don't disagree with anything you say. I wanted to point out that this email address to the IBM support group gives us another way to bring issues and concerns forward. Any way we can keep the pressure on to fix the problems is good. We unfortunately are not going to change this corporate decision. I have sent an email to this support group asking them who makes up this group and if they are really serious about fixing the issues and concerns that we have out here. It will be interesting to hear their reply. Will keep you posted when I receive it.