I have discovered that my employer, CenterPoint, dropped my retiree Medicare group health plan beginning January 1, 2017.
What do I do NOW? I am a 69-year old female retiring this October and enrolling in Medicare for the first time. My husband, Paul, who is 70 and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B since turning 65, has Alzheimer’s.
You understand Medicare and can explain to me what I need to do in such easy terms that I can comprehend. I cannot afford to make a costly mistake because Paul’s Alzheimer’s facility is costing over $7,000 a month for his care.
~ Thanks in advance…Charlotte from Spring Branch area
Hello, Ms. Charlotte:
America needs to understand that employers are changing retiree plans because of the high cost of health insurance.
This trend of employers not covering retirees with retiree health benefits began during 2013’s Medicare Open Enrollment Period with Baker Hughes, TRS and CITGO, to name a few companies. Then more followed in 2015 when Schlumberger, Marathon Oil and Chevron changed their retirement options.
Last year BP and CenterPoint changed their retiree health plans with only one option– which is a group Medicare Advantage plan, which means that one is not using “Original Medicare with group health insurance plan or a Medicare Supplement to pay for healthcare. Which leaves many wondering like you are, Charlotte, “What do I do now?”
From the information that I have read from CenterPoint, if you decide to change, then you will lose any help from CenterPoint with the HRA (health reimbursement account) benefits checks coming from CenterPoint or whomever you retire from.
Don’t WORRY!! There is light at the end of the tunnel!! The CenterPoint retiree Medicare Advantage plan is a group Medicare Advantage plan.
There are Medicare rules that you and your husband can benefit from, helping you return to “Original Medicare” with a Medicare Supplement and enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan.
The steps to return to Original Medicare are below:
- Charlotte, because you are receiving Part B for the first time, you will have a one-time special opportunity to enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan without answering any health questions. This Medicare rule is called the Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This 6-month period begins on the first day of the month in which you’re 65 or older and enrolling in Part B for the first time. **With Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement, you will not be part of the CenterPoint Retiree Medicare Advantage plan**
- Paul’s situation is different due to health issues and he has to apply during his guaranteed issue period for applying for a Medicare Supplement/Medigap plan. He should terminate from the CenterPoint group Medicare Advantage plan and receive a company benefit termination letter to show the Medicare Supplement insurance company that he is in a guaranteed issue period.
With guaranteed issue rights, an insurance company must:
- Sell you a Medigap/Medicare Supplement policy. “You have the right to buy any Medigap/Medicare Supplement plan A, B, C, F, K or L that’s sold in your state by any insurance company.
- Cover all your pre-existing health conditions.
- Cannot charge you more for a Medigap/Medicare Supplement policy, regardless of past or present health problems.
If you have any other questions concerning losing your retirement benefits or searching for the right Medicare plan, email Toni at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1/844-250-8664.
Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide®, which is a simple guide that puts Medicare in “people” terms, is on sale at www.tonisays.com.