Conference retirees learning about new health insurance
Upper New York Conference Benefits Officer Vicki Putney has been traveling around the Conference to help retirees and their spouses prepare for a significant change to their health benefits.
As of January 2015, Conference retirees – clergy and lay – age 65 and older will receive health insurance through Medicare along with a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) to help them pay for their insurance and health-care expenses.
Since there are a number of Medicare plans and options to choose from, the General Board of Pension & Health Benefits is partnering with OneExchange, a service offered by Towers Watson to help retirees choose the right plan for their needs.
OneExchange provides Benefit Advisers, who over the phone provide individual consultations regarding choosing a plan. Putney and a OneExchange representative have been meeting with retirees to explain the enrollment process and answer questions.
At the Sept. 15, 2014 meeting at the Cicero UMC, Putney said the purpose for the meeting was to "acknowledge the elephant in the room: anxiety,” and to "take away some of those worries."
More than 80 retirees and spouses attended the 45-minute presentation, which was followed by a question and answer session.
Questions raised ranged from the complex – such as how to authorize an adult child to act on behalf of an elderly parent – to some more prosaic inquiries such as "How long will we be put on hold when a call is made?" – which drew some laughter (They try to keep it under 10 minutes, the representative said.).
"She explained things clearly; she was patient in explaining to be sure that everybody understood," said Denise Pearsall, whose husband is the Rev. Gordon Pearsall, retired. "I think this is going to work."
The Rev. Mark Pierce, retired, admitted that he probably didn't absorb everything that was explained in the information-dense session, but "it was nice to see the process they provide and that they continue with you (throughout)."
The OneExchange consultations are set to begin in October, and UNY retirees who are moving to the new plan are urged to call and make their initial consultation appointments as soon as they can. The appointments take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.
There is one more OneExchange session scheduled for 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, at the Gouverneur UMC.
Putney said that she's been pleased with the results so far.
"Every session I've been to so far has had a wonderful spirit," she said. "The retirees have asked excellent questions, and I feel they have been satisfied with the process as it's been explained."
Eligible retirees who are unable to attend a workshop in person will receive a recording of one of the sessions; the DVDs will be mailed in late September.
The recorded session will also be available to view on the Conference website. An announcement will be made in the E-Advocate newsletter when that video is available.
Visit the Conference Benefits page