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1. Medicare Decoder    2. Basics    3. Advantage vs. Original    4. Compare Plans    5. Via HPInc/HPE    6. Trouble; Contacts

Comparing health plans. (Medicare or otherwise.)

Advice and reference info from members.  (Updated Nov 30, 2020.)  Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org 

For updates, join the HPAA's Benefits Forum ( https://www.hpalumni.org/goBenefits ) Mutual help on health coverage -- COBRA, retirement, Medicare, open-market. Decoding Annual Enrollment. Annual Enrollment.

Heads up! When considering health plans, compare the details.

Health plans provided through employers to current employees and retirees are "group" plans that have been customized for the specific employer. With Medicare plans, even though there are government specifications for Advantage and Supplemental plans, employer plans do not have to match those specifications. Group plans and individual plans with similar names from the same carrier may have very different coverage features. For example, some members found that HPInc or HPE group plans are better for their specific situation than open-market plans.

From our discussions on the HPAA Benefits Forum, of the many factors involved in picking a retiree health plan, there are several key issues:

- Whether the plan has an annual out-of-pocket maximum or a lifetime cap. You could get wiped out financially by a major health issue.

- If you have pre-existing conditions.

- What medications you currently take. Can make a huge difference in your cost via co-pays.

- Other co-pays. For example, the co-pay for hospital stays can vary from zero to hundreds per day.

- Whether your current doctors -- and the hospitals and specialists they use (such as anesthesiologists) -- accept each plan.

- How coverage works if you are traveling, if you spend time at a child's home, or if you have two homes.

- Dependent coverage.

Member comments:

"For Part D plans, do your research on Medicare -- https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/ -- and on the web sites of the plans that interest you. Always generate a drug cost for the pharmacy that you prefer to use. Take Aon's drug costs with a grain of salt. If they happen to agree with Medicare and the plan, then trust them. Otherwise, ignore them."

"If you run the numbers early in the enrollment period, consider rerunning them later, because things can change. Check the out of pocket and deductibles. In CA the HP Kaiser group plan has much lower amounts for the same cost as the Kaiser individual plan."

"Dont throw out the baby with the bath water. HPs Humana Gold Advantage program in Colorado is great and no additional charge."

"I'm insuring my college age son. He's on UHC PPO 650 which is a much better insurance than what is available with 'Affordable' Health Care insurance. Once he graduates and is on his own, I'll go to either AARP/UHC, Aon/UHC or the open market. The HP group insurance isn't competitive for those on Medicare but again, in my case I have to insure a dependent who is not of Medicare age."

"Just make sure you are comparing apples to apples."

Comparing open-market plans on the official Medicare site...
- Advantage plans. Find plans in your state. Compare benefits.
- Medigap plans.  Find plans in your area. Compare costs, extra benefits, drug coverage, and ratings.  
https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/  (You can select "Continue without logging in.")

Medicare next step: 5. Medicare - HPInc or HPE  If receiving benefits from HPInc or HPE

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, HPInc, or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA members.

As financial, legal, and personal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and finances and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided here should be used as a substitute for the personalized advice of competent financial, legal, and personal advisors.

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