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Wish I had known before layoff, retirement, or leaving: Part 3 - Benefits.

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

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 use our ASAP Checklist. Member advice on what to do before losing access to company systems -- and in the following few weeks. Supplements the official HP/HPE checklists. (HPAA membership not required)

Heads Up! These comments were posted from 2011 to 2023. Some things have changed. Please send corrections and suggestions to: info@hpalumni.org

Benefits - Wish I Had Known #3  (Most recent additions Feb 18, 2023.)

The majority of members report that the Benefits Centers do a very good job. Currently, the HP Benefits Center is outsourced to Alight Benefits Administration -- a separate company from Alight Retiree Health Solutions, a Medicare insurance sales agency that HP uses. The HPE Benefits Center has been outsourced to Bswift since April 1, 2019. 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.

How to resolve U.S. HP or HPE health benefits issues -- and how to escalate: Benefits Centers.

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

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If you are retiring before Medicare-eligible, make sure you have your healthcare planned out for you and family.

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If you're going to go on Medicare, make sure you have the best supplemental Medicare insurance selected as your first insurance. If you don't, you will be subject to "underwriting" and they can consider pre-existing conditions later on. First time around, they have to accept you.

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Glad I changed all contact information, on anything HP/HPE related (Fidelity Login, MyHPBenefits site/login, etc.) to be my personal email and cell-phone info.

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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. [2014]

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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.  [2014]

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. [2014]

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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I (think I) wish I had known how much health challenges could combine with normal retirement activities to make life very busy. Pre-retirement was busy enough so I postponed completing personal operational plans until I no longer went to work. When that time came, my life became much busier. Rare situations do happen.

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I retired from HPE in June 2021. I wish I had known:

- If you don't opt for HPE medical insurance via COBRA (ridiculously expensive), then you will not be able to enroll in medical insurance in the future, even though the retirement guide says you can. But you have no account or record with the HPE Benefits Center, and they frankly don't know how to open one for you so that you can explore options during open enrollment. So I wish I had opted for COBRA for a month just to stay "active" in the retiree benefits system.

- That I would never hear from HPE again. I guess I expected there would be some email, communication, etc. ("Hi Retiree, this is what's going on...") If it weren't for this forum, I would have no idea about open enrollment periods or other retiree benefits (see comment above).

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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 or being laid off.  Join the HP Alumni Association: If formerly a regular, direct U.S. employee of HP or HPE -- or in the process of leaving.  No charge, thanks to HPAA's Supporting Members.
https://www.hpalumni.org

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Next section: Financial Issues


If formerly a regular, direct U.S. employee of HP or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA's Supporting Members.


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