Benefits - Wish I Had Known #3
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
- Financial Issues
- Looking at the Big Picture
Also see our
– what to do before losing access to internal systems. (HPAA
membership not required)
Questions or comments to:
Benefits - Wish I Had Known #3
Reviewed Feb 9, 2020
The majority of members report that the
HP Benefits Center -- outsourced to Alight Solutions (formerly 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
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. <smile>
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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. You are eligible to
join the HP Alumni Association if you were formerly a regular, direct employee
of Hewlett-Packard, HPInc, or Hewlett Packard Enterprise -- or are in the
process of leaving. No login, no password. No charge, thanks to HPAA
The HPAA is operated by former
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For more mutual help on this topic and many others, join the
independent HP Alumni Association.
If you were formerly a regular, direct employee of HP or HPE
-- or are in the process of leaving --
join HPAlumni via email.
Transition, Benefits, and Finance forums. No charge, thanks to HPAA
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