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Benefits - Wish I Had Known #3

 

We asked HPAA members "What do you wish you had known before you left HP?"


The responses are organized into five articles:
- Heads Up - Surprises and Hazards
- Job and Career Issues
- Benefits Issues   [this article]
- Financial Issues
- Looking at the Big Picture

 

Also see our ASAP Checklist what to do before losing access to internal systems. (HPAA membership not required)


Benefits - Wish I Had Known #3  (9-28-2014)

The majority of members report that the HP Benefits Center -- outsourced to Aon Hewitt -- does a very good job. Unless you really do something dumb, the Benefits Center makes sure that you have some sort of coverage during the various transitions.

However, you do need to call them as many times as necessary to make sure things are set up the way you want them -- and that you understand the tradeoffs.

Here's our map of the companies involved in HP Benefits -- especially the various roles that the Benefits Center plays:
http://www.hpalumni.org/who

The confusing paperwork led one member to incorrectly conclude that she would have no medical coverage for the weekend following her last day -- so spent the entire weekend in bed. She said it was a good idea anyhow after the stress of the last week.

--cg, moderator

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I thought the transition from HP medical to Cobra was not very clear.  If I had left at the end of August, it would have been very helpful to understand what is really happening to medical insurance in the "2 year" HP provided medical insurance. Several phone calls to HP Benefits Center were required to understand it including discussions with the Cobra folks.  HP could have made this much clearer.

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Dental was an issue as dental insurance is not easy to find, so I'd suggest they get as much dental work done as possible before their termination occurs.

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Assuming you are 65 years old, or older, upon leaving HP you have 8 months in which to apply for Medicare Part B.  Failure to apply for Part B within 8 months will result is significant penalties when you eventually apply for Medicare Part B.  There are exceptions to this requirement, for example, if you are covered by your spouses' employer's medical plan, then you do not need to apply for Medicare Part B while covered.

In the case of the 2012 EER plan, HP offered 24 months of "active employee health care coverage".  This was essentially a COBRA plan and did not negate the need to apply for Medicare Part B, even though our HP employee coverage was our primary health care plan and we were not using Medicare Part B coverage.  (Also, keep in mind that Medicare is NEVER your secondary coverage; it's always primary.).  This situation - thinking we didn't need to apply for Part B for the 24 months of HP coverage - has caused real issues for some retirees.

Keep a copy of your separation papers handy (employment termination notice) so you can document - prove - when you left HP.  Social Security will need this to enroll you in Part B Medicare and not penalize you for registering outside the 8 month window.

Everyone should sign up for Medicare Part A when turning 65.  It's free.

As for the new Phased Retirement plan, it's not clear to me how working 'part time' will impact your HP medical coverage vis-a-vis the Medicare Part B sign-up rules.  I would seriously encourage checking with Medicare to get their determination, in writing if possible.  Do not rely on HP Benefits administrators for advice on this important 'change of life' event.

Same idea applies to Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage: keep a copy of your employment termination papers and your "Creditable Prescription Coverage" document HP sends out every year. You'll need them when you apply, otherwise severe penalties.  I believe the sign-up window for Part D is only 60 days after termination from your current "Creditable" prescription drug plan.

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I wish that I had known more about the requirements of Medicare Part B, (which costs money to be covered), and how it is supposed to co-exist with retirement medical or healthcare benefits.

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These issues are discussed on the HPAA's Benefits forum -- another reason why you need to join the HPAA once you are sure you know you are leaving.  You are eligible to join the HP Alumni Association if you were formerly a regular, direct employee of Hewlett-Packard, HP Inc, or Hewlett Packard Enterprise-- or have a defined retirement or termination date. Thanks to the HPAA's Supporting Members, there is no charge.
http://www.hpalumni.org
--cg

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