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Medicare Checklist for HP, HP Inc, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Alumni
-- whether an official Retiree or not

Advice and reference info from members. (Updated October 8, 2017.)
This topic is covered in the HPAA's US Benefits Forum. Mutual help on health coverage -- COBRA, retirement, Medicare, open-market. Annual Enrollment, discounts.
Contact the HPAA volunteers: info@hpalumni.org

(Note on pdf files: If you click on a pdf file and it doesn't come up automatically in your browser, go to http://get.adobe.com/reader to get a free, genuine copy of Adobe Reader for Windows, Mac, or Android. Be sure to uncheck the pre-checked boxes that give Adobe permission to install unrelated software or change your default browser.)

Step 1. Basics on official Medicare site:

- Bookmark and explore the Official Medicare site:  http://www.medicare.gov   (Note that official-looking medicare.com site that comes up in Google searches is operated by an insurance sales agency.)

- Download the excellent "Medicare and You" booklet -- https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf -- from the official Medicare site. Two key pages: A flowchart on page 17 explains Original Medicare + Supplemental vs Medicare Advantage plans. A table on page 82 explains the Supplemental plans -- A through N. Even if you have a paper copy, it is very helpful to use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases in a pdf file. (Depending on the document and your setup, either hit the F3 key to search for words or phrases -- or hover over the lower edge of any page. In the hover case, you will see a popup. Click on the "swirl" icon at the right of the popup to get the Adobe Reader toolbar.)

- If you don't sign up for each of the various elements of Medicare when you are first eligible, you generally have to pay a late enrollment penalty for years. (Covered throughout the "Medicare and You" booklet.)

Step 2. Limitations and traps on official Medicare site:

There are limitations and traps related to pre-existing conditions, and when changing between employer-provided, retiree, Advantage, and Supplemental (Medigap) coverage. Here are other key pages on the official Medicare website covering limitations and traps:

- Employer coverage (if still employed.) "Even if you have coverage through a current or former employer, you still may need to make some important Medicare enrollment decisions. It’s important to understand how your current coverage works with Medicare before making any decisions." Three choices: "I have employer coverage and: I'm turning 65 or I'm over 65 or I'm under 65 and have a disability."

- Retiree insurance. "If you're retired and have Medicare and group health plan (retiree) coverage from a former employer... "5 things to know about retiree coverage"

- Supplemental (Medigap) plans:
"Choosing a Medigap Policy" Especially note the section on Guaranteed Issue -- pages 21-24.
"8 things to know about Medigap policies"
"Guaranteed issue rights. Rights you have in certain situations when insurance companies are required by law to sell or offer you a Medigap policy even if you have health problems (called 'pre-existing conditions.')"

- Advantage plans:
"13 things to know about Medicare Advantage Plans"

- Changing plans:
"Medigap [Supplemental] & Medicare Advantage Plans"

- Comparing open-market plans:
You can compare quality and performance of Medicare plans on the official Medicare website: 

If you have found an especially helpful page on the official Medicare site, please pass the word via an email to info@hpalumni.org

Step 3. Find the appropriate Medicare sites for your state:

- State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. State-specific SHIP websites with information about local, personalized counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families. SHIPs can help you with things like: Your Medicare questions, including your benefits, coverage, premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. Complaints and appeals. Joining or leaving a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), any other Medicare health plan, or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Highly recommended by HPAA members.  https://www.shiptacenter.org

- Medicare Savings Programs. If you have limited income and resources, you can get help from your state paying some or all of your Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. https://www.medicare.gov/Contacts/#resources/msps

- State Insurance Departments. Information about Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans sold in the state. https://www.medicare.gov/Contacts/#resources/sids

Links on the official Medicare site to other helpful contacts: https://www.medicare.gov/Contacts

Step 4. HPAA Medicare Webinar  

There are several expensive traps in Medicare -- one of which could cost you for years. They are well explained in the video from HPAA's October, 2014 Medicare webinar.

- Lifetime costs for missing deadlines.
- Premium depends on the last tax return available to Medicare, which may be a lot higher than your actual income.
- In-network vs. out-of-network.
- Physically in a hospital but not technically "admitted" -- a potentially very expensive trap.
- The deductible, coinsurance, and drug coverage differences between the various alternatives.

Watch the slides-and-audio video of the WebEx conference, including Q-and-A: HPAA Medicare Webinar video   [YouTube, 75 minutes. YouTube detects your connection speed and adjusts the video quality accordingly.]
How to use the video: You may want to download the slides first
-- and then select the key slides to print for note-taking while watching the video. 

Part 1 -- For everyone: Medicare Explained -- with Heads Up Warnings  [First half-hour of the HPAA video ]   Printable slides [pdf, 42 pages, 0.6MB]
Connie Corrales -- from Sourcewise, a non-profit in Santa Clara County.
- Federally funded nationwide Medicare counseling and advocacy in every state.
- Introduction to Medicare.
- Medicare choices and options.
- Heads up! Several expensive traps.

Part 2 -- For those on the Pre-2003 Retiree Program: Medicare for HP Retirees  [28:22 to 51:55 on video]   Printable slides [pdf, 24 pages, 0.7MB]
David Rew -- from the Aon Retiree Health Exchange
- If on Pre-2003 Retiree Medical Program and don't want an HP group plan, the HP reimbursement can only be used to purchase a plan through Aon.
- Aon is compensated by insurance companies; agents not on commission.
- How to prepare; Guaranteed Issue of Coverage varies by state; enrollment and payment options; timeline; going back to the HP group plan.

Part 3 -- Q and A  [51:58 to 01:15:19 on video]

Comments to: editor@hpalumni.org  (WebEx facilities courtesy of First Tech Federal Credit Union.)

Step 5. If on the "Pre-2003" Retiree Program.  (The confusing term "Pre-2003 HP Medical Program" refers to the year in which Hewlett-Packard's US retiree medical program was redesigned -- not the year you retired. Regardless of when you retired, depending on your length of service and other factors, you may qualify for the US "Pre-2003" program. Details: http://www.hpalumni.org/Pre2003 )

Key info on Medicare for HP retirees is located in several sections of the Annual Enrollment Guide: Download the Enrollment Guide from HPAA's Annual Enrollment Page 

UnitedHealthcare group PPO Medicare plan. "A national plan offering full flexibility to its members. This plan is not a network-based plan. HP retirees can see any provider who accepts Medicare and the UHC PPO plan. If a provider indicates they accept Medicare but do not accept the UnitedHealthcare Group Medicare Advantage (PPO) plan, the participant should call UHC at 1-877-456-7240, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., local time, Monday through Friday. TTY users, call 711. This will allow UHC to follow-up with the provider to explain the plan in more detail."
--per HPI US Benefits.

Aon Retiree Health Exchange (ARHE)
AARP/UHC Medicare plans are not on the list of available plans from ARHE. You have to explicitly ask the ARHE agent for the AARP/UHC plans.
Kaiser Medicare plans are not available through the ARHE -- you have to go through HP for Kaiser Medicare plans.

Comparing open-market plans:
You can compare quality and performance of Medicare plans on the official Medicare website:


HP group plans. HP Benefits Center (manages any retiree health plans that HP's predecessor companies may have had -- including DEC.)
Phone numbers and member advice: http://www.hpalumni.org/contacts#Medical  Ask for a "Retirement Specialist" -- otherwise, you may get an agent who is primarily trained on current-employee issues. (operated by Aon/Hewitt.)

Individual plans. Aon Retiree Health Exchange (formerly Aon Hewitt Navigators)
If on Pre-2003 Retiree Medical Program and don't want an HP group plan, the HP reimbursement can only be used to purchase a plan through Aon. 
On that site, you can register and confirm your enrollment appointment -- and prepare for your enrollment phone call:
- Enter your prescriptions -- which has a huge effect on which plans make sense for you.
- Compare plans and put the best alternatives a shopping cart
- Go to the HP HRA (Health Reimbursement Account) contribution website.
Toll-free 1-800-975-0355, 8am to 8pm Central Time, Monday through Friday.

Who to call with medical benefits issues: Who does what? - the HPAA's summary of the roles played by the Benefits Center and each of the many providers -- and how to escalate. 

Health insurance agents. Many ex-HPers do not qualify for an HP health insurance plan -- or, even if they do, have low years-of-service such that they should consider non-HP alternatives. An experienced independent insurance agent licensed to sell health insurance in your state can help you sort through the complexity -- and adds nothing to the cost of the plan you purchase from them.

Medicare Prescription Coverage Letters sent by UHC

- "...your plan sponsor has decided to end your prescription drug coverage"  www.hpalumni.org/UHC-EndDrugCoverage

- "...you may have to pay a Late Enrollment Penalty..."   www.hpalumni.org/UHC-LateEnrollmentPenalty

For more mutual help on these topics and many others, join the HP Alumni Association. 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 to join the HPAA.

The Hewlett-Packard Alumni Association is an independent volunteer organization of former HP, HP Inc, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise employees – and current employees in the process of leaving. Operated by former employees who volunteer their time; not officially endorsed or supported.


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