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

1. HPAA's Medicare Decoder. (Whether or not receiving benefits from or subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE.)

(Updated Sep 25, 2021.)   Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org

If transitioning to Medicare soon, you have a lot of homework to do -- whether receiving company benefits or not. As one member put it: "You do need to engage in this process. Medicare does not do it for you."

If you were formerly a regular, direct employee of Hewlett-Packard, HPInc, or Hewlett Packard Enterprise -- or are in the process of leaving join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA members. This topic can be discussed in the HPAA Benefits Forum. Updates and Q-and-A forum on U.S. HP and HPE COBRA and retiree health benefits, including Annual Enrollment and transition to Medicare.

Overview of U.S. health coverage issues: Contacts, how to escalate, future of retiree healthcare, Pre-2003 program, dental plans, which company are you a retiree of?  https://www.hpalumni.org/health 

Annual Enrollment for U.S. retiree and COBRA health coverage.

General healthplan heads-up:

1. Technically, you have 31 days to change your health plan if you lose coverage from an employer or other plan -- or have a status change such as marriage or divorce -- or transition to Medicare. These restrictions are not unique to HPInc/HPE. A fundamental principle of health insurance is that everyone continuously pays into the overall health insurance system pool when they are healthy. (For example, that's why 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.)  If you have such a change, contact your Benefits Center ASAP -- or contact the insurance sales agency that you bought the plan from, such as Aon Retiree Health Exchange ARHE Contacts

"They couldn't do the surgery because his insurance had been terminated. It took a very long three-way phone call with the Benefits Center and UHC to get his new coverage entered into the system."

2. You must examine health plan coverage every year. Features for the same plan may change from year to year. Plans may be closed or restructured. (For example, one member bought a low-cost, high-deductible Medicare Part D drug plan. The plan was discontinued and they were moved to a higher-cost plan. A couple of years later, the low-cost plan was again available to new customers.) Tip: HPAA member advice on comparing health plans: https://www.hpalumni.org/health-compare

Medicare heads-up:

1. You may have to take action. "Some people get Medicare automatically, and some have to sign up. You may have to sign up if you're 65 (or almost 65) and not getting Social Security."

2. Deadlines. "There are certain times of the year when you can sign up or change how you get your coverage."

3. Don't delay. "If you sign up for Medicare Part B when you're first eligible, you can avoid a penalty."

HPAA members advise that you get started three months before your Medicare start date (which is the start of your birth month, or the previous month if born on the 1st.)

If benefits involve HP/HPInc or HPE:

1. Be sure to go through the critical info in your Enrollment Guide -- including changing HPInc or HPE plans, dropping and re-enrolling, loss of spouse/partner's coverage, and dependent coverage following your death. (HPInc: Inside rear cover. HPE: Page 18.) Tip: Lots packed into the Enrollment Guides. Even if you have a paper copy, much easier to use if you download the current copy and use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases. (To search for a word or phrase in a pdf file, press Ctrl and F together on a PC -- or Command and F on a Mac.) https://www.hpalumni.org/EnrollmentGuides

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

Fastest to follow these stops in order...

For everyone. Whether or not receiving benefits from or subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE:

2. Medicare Basics  Medicare works differently! You have lots of work to do.

3. Advantage vs. Original Medicare  Expensive traps in Medicare -- one could cost you for years. From HPAA members and the official site.

4. Comparing health plans  Advice from HPAA members on how to compare health plans.

If receiving benefits from or subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE:

5. Medicare via HPInc or HPE  If receiving benefits from -- or subsidized by -- HP/HPInc or HPE. You can explore your options without creating an Aon account yet (or without disturbing your current Aon account settings.)

6. Troubleshooting and contacts

Next step: 2. Medicare Basics

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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