1. HPAA's Medicare Decoder. (Whether
or not receiving benefits from or
subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE.)
(Updated Dec 30,
Questions or comments to:
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
If you were formerly a regular,
direct employee of Hewlett-Packard, HPInc, or Hewlett
Packard Enterprise -- or are in the process of leaving –
the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA
members. This topic is covered in the HPAA
Benefits Forum. Discuss U.S. HP/HPInc/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?
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
"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:
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
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
get started three months before your Medicare start date (which
start of your birth month, or the previous month if born on the
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.)
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...
Whether or not receiving benefits from or
subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE:
Basics Medicare works differently! You have lots of work to
Original Medicare Expensive traps in Medicare -- one could cost you for
years. From HPAA members and the official site.
health plans Advice from HPAA members on how to compare
If receiving benefits from or
subsidized by HP/HPInc or HPE:
Medicare via HPInc or HPE
If receiving benefits from -- or subsidized by -- HP/HPInc or
Troubleshooting and contacts