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4. Medicare - HP (If receiving benefits from HP or HPE)

Advice and reference info from members. (Updated Feb 23, 2020 -- still working on this page.)  Page updated often -- use browser refresh button to display latest version. 

Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org

The Enrollment Guide has color-coded bands across the top of each page for each section:

- For everyone -- white or gray band.

- Medicare eligible -- aqua band.

- Not yet Medicare-eligible -- purple band.

- Families with both Medicare-eligible and non-Medicare-eligible members -- "split family" -- orange band. 

Go through the "What's changing for 2020" page at the start of your section. Every year, there are major changes.

Be sure to read the critical info at the end of the booklet. (Called "Important reminders" -- but some of the points may be new to you.)

You must carefully compare the alternatives yourself. Similar-sounding group plans (such as the HP plans) and individual plans from the same health insurance company may have very different coverage features. (For example, some members report significant differences between HP group plans and open-market individual plans for pre-existing conditions and drug coverage.) And coverage features for the same plan change from year to year.

Download the most recent HP Inc or HP Enterprise Annual Enrollment Guide here on the HPAlumni website: https://www.hpalumni.org/EnrollmentGuides  

Even if you have a paper copy, it is very helpful to use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases in a pdf file. (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.) Start by searching for "Medicare."


What happens when?

A couple of months before you reach 65 -- and during every Annual Enrollment -- you will hear from multiple companies:

- The HP Benefits Center -- operated for HP by Alight Solutions (formerly Aon Hewitt) -- which administers the HP-custom group Medicare plans in the same manner they administer the HP pre-Medicare plans, which are also custom group plans.

- Aon Retiree Health Exchange (ARHE) -- an insurance sales agency selected by HP to market HP-subsidized individual, standard open-market Medicare plans to retirees. (No connection with the government health insurance exchanges.) You work with an ARHE agent who is licensed to sell health insurance in your state. If you qualify for an HP subsidy, an individual Medicare plan is subsidized by HP only if you purchase through ARHE.
"As in the past, please note that RRA allocations from HP are not available if you purchase an individual insurance option from sources other than the Aon Retiree Health Exchange."
-- from page 2 of the "2020 What’s Changing Guide" sent with your Enrollment Guide.
"Please note that RRA allocations from HP are not available if you purchase an individual insurance option from sources other than Aon Retiree Health Exchange."
-- from page 2 of the Pre-2003 version of the personalized letter -- entitled "Benefits annual enrollment - 2020 coverage statement" -- sent via postal mail with your Enrollment Guide -- and in the 2020 HP Inc "What's Changing Guide."

If you do not qualify for an HP subsidy, the price for a given plan is the same whether or not you purchase it through ARHE.

- Other companies. You will also receive mailings and phone solicitations from insurance companies (such as AARP/UHC) and insurance sales agencies who purchase lists from consumer data brokers such as Acxiom, Equifax, and Experian. This information was not provided by HP.

The national Medicare deadline is in early December to adjust your coverage for the next calendar year. (The annual deadline does not apply if you have qualified life event during the year -- such as starting Medicare.)

If you won't be able to resolve your Medicare situation by the HP enrollment deadline -- for example, because you can't get an ARHE agent appointment in time, or your have an application pending for an individual Medicare plan through ARHE -- enroll in the best HP plan now and change later if necessary. There is a confirmation and mop-up cycle after the stated HP deadline.

"Review the Confirmation of Coverage statement you’ll receive in the mail in November. If you need to make corrections, call the HP Benefits Center immediately at 1-800-890-3100. You must make corrections by December 27, 2019, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (8 p.m. Central Time). After that date, you won’t be able to make changes for 2020 unless you experience a qualified status change." --Enrollment Guide (page 2)


Medicare works differently!

You have lots of work to do. If you haven't already done so, start at Step 1 -- Medicare Basics

There is no family coverage under Medicare. If a spouse/partner is also covered by your company or employee plan, an HP-subsidized individual Medicare plan is not available to you until you are both Medicare-eligible. Then ARHE can provide separate HP-subsidized plans for both of you. This complicates the transition from a group employee or retiree plan to Medicare, since you and your spouse/partner probably don't have the same age and birthdate. You need to work closely with the HP Benefits Center to set up interim HP group plan coverage until both of you qualify for Medicare. 
See Coordinating with dependent coverage

You must carefully compare the alternatives yourself. Similar-sounding group plans (such as the HP plans) and individual plans from the same health insurance company may have very different coverage features. (For example, some members report significant differences between HP group plans and open-market individual plans for pre-existing conditions and drug coverage.) You can compare quality and performance of open-market Medicare plans on the official Medicare website: https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/

Some plans are only available directly from the insurance company rather than through insurance sales agencies. "Not all plans participate in exchanges, and that is the decision of the carrier." --HPAA's management contact at ARHE:

- AARP/UHC Medicare plans are generally not on the list of plans available from insurance sales agencies such as ARHE -- you have to explicitly ask the sales agent for the AARP/UHC plans. (Our ARHE contact indicates that this is "UHC AARP's marketing requirement.") Check the AARP/UHC website to see what is available in your local area: https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com You need to join the AARP -- well worth the $16 per year for the publications and other benefits. ARHE will ask you for your member number, which needs to be current.

- Kaiser individual regional Medicare HMO plans are generally not on the list of plans available from insurance sales agencies such as ARHE. (Apparently Kaiser doesn't pay commissions to insurance sales agencies.) However, HP group Kaiser regional Medicare HMO plans are available through the Benefits Center.

The confusing term "Pre-2003 HP Medical Program" refers to the year in which Hewlett-Packard's US retiree medical program was redesigned to be much less generous -- not the year you retired. Regardless of when you retired, depending on your length of service and other factors, you may qualify for the US "Pre-2003" program. Details: https://www.hpalumni.org/Pre2003


If on an HP-subsidized Medicare retiree plan

HP retirees who qualify for Medicare are able to choose between:

- HP-custom group plans (including UnitedHealthcare nationwide Medicare Advantage PPO options and regional Medicare HMO options such as Kaiser, Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim.) (With an HP group plan, any company subsidy is not broken out separately -- it is factored into the price you pay.) The HP Medicare group plan is "A national plan offering full flexibility to its members. This plan is not a network-based plan. HP retirees can see any provider who accepts Medicare and the UHC PPO plan."  --per HP Inc Benefits.

or

- Standard open-market individual plans obtained outside of HP. If you qualify for an HP subsidy, an individual Medicare plan is subsidized by HP only if you purchase through Aon Retiree Health Exchange.

"Representatives at the HP Benefits Center have no incentive to encourage participation in our own plans versus the exchange." --HP Corporate Benefits

You can also call the insurance carriers directly, including UnitedHealthcare at 1-877-456-7240 or www.uhcretiree.com/hp .

- An individual Medicare plan that you select from the standard open-market plans sold by ARHE -- with a possible HP subsidy based on years of service and when you left HP.

Available only if you and your spouse/partner are both Medicare-eligible.

You cannot get an HP subsidy for a plan purchased elsewhere.

"You’ll still have the option to enroll in HP coverage during future retiree benefits enrollment periods if you disenroll from Aon Retiree Health Exchange coverage or have a qualified status change." --Enrollment Guide

ARHE for HP Inc https://retiree.aon.com/hp
1-800-975-0355 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday 

ARHE for HPE -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise https://retiree.aon.com/hewlettpackardenterprise
1-844-537-5303 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday

See your Benefits Enrollment Guide for information on both alternatives. Download the most recent HP Inc or HP Enterprise Annual Enrollment Guide here on the HPAlumni website: https://www.hpalumni.org/EnrollmentGuides  Even if you have a paper copy, it is very helpful to use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases in a pdf file. (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.)

The agents from ARHE and the Benefits Center (operated for HP by Alight Solutions) understandably have little knowledge of the other company's role or processes -- and only have information on the HP-subsidized plans available to you via their company. "Because these two types of coverage are different and the individual insurance market is subject to federal regulation, each organization can provide details about the plans they offer, but they can’t provide direct comparisons between HP plans and exchange-based plans." --HP

You can see the ARHE choices for your area -- with unsubsidized rates -- without registering on the ARHE site.

Work with both ARHE and the Benefits Center to determine the best plan for your specific situation offered via each. Then you make the final choice.

 

Medicare December 7. Aon Retiree Health Exchange (ARHE) dates (for HP-subsidized open-market individual Medicare plans) -- October 15 – December 7. (Same as nationwide annual Medicare open enrollment period.)

If you elect to purchase a subsidized individual plan through ARHE, your benefits choice is indicated by the Benefits Center as "Aon Retiree Health Exchange $0.00" because you pay directly. At the start of the year, the company funds a Retiree Reimbursement Account administered by Alight Solutions. ARHE automatically submits claims to the reimbursement account every month. You receive automatic monthly direct deposits to your bank account until the reimbursement account is exhausted for the year. Members report that, once it is set up, this process works very well


Since most ARHE appointments are after the HP deadline, select your best HP group plan alternative now -- and change your HP Benefits setting later if you decide to go through ARHE. "...the exchange will coordinate your coverage with the HP Benefits Center, including dropping the HP medical and prescription drug coverage you had enrolled in for 2020." (Enrollment Guide Page 5)
 

When can you make changes?

 
- After December 27, 2019 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time "...you won’t be able to make changes for 2020 unless you experience a qualified status change." (Enrollment Guide Page 2)

- "...if at any time you elect not to participate in HP retiree medical coverage... you are eligible to re-enroll only if you do so within 31 days of losing coverage under another employer’s group medical option. This could include the loss of your own coverage or the loss of coverage under your spouse’s/domestic partner’s coverage." (Page 18.)

- "With either of the exchange options [ARHE or public health exchange], you’ll keep the option to enroll in HP coverage during future retiree benefits enrollment periods if you disenroll from the exchange plan or have a qualified life event during the year." (Page 2.)

There are rules to enforce continuity of coverage across the entire health insurance system. For example, you have 31 days to change your health plan if you lose coverage from another employer or have a status change such as marriage or divorce -- or transition to Medicare.

A fundamental principle of insurance is that everyone continuously pays into the 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.)

HP covers the rules in the Enrollment Guide, such as: "If you die after declining HP coverage..." and "...if at any time you elect not to participate in HP retiree medical coverage, there may be restrictions on your future ability to enroll..." It is a very good idea to review the exact rules -- covering changing plans, dropping and re-enrolling, loss of spouse's coverage, etc. -- in these sections of the HPInc 2020 Annual Enrollment Guide and "What's Changing Guide:"  - Download the most recent HP Inc or HP Enterprise Annual Enrollment Guide here on the HPAlumni website: https://www.hpalumni.org/EnrollmentGuides  Even if you have a paper copy, it is very helpful to use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases in a pdf file. (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.)

 

Prepare for your ARHE call on the ARHE site: ARHE Contacts

- Register and confirm your enrollment appointment

- Enter your prescriptions -- which has a huge effect on which plans work best for you.

- Compare plans and put the best alternatives in the shopping cart


Notes:

UHC group Medicare Advantage PPO plan. In early 2018, acceptance issues were reported to HPAA by a few members -- but not since then.
- The Enrollment Guide hedges on this point: "...you can see doctors in or out of the UHC network as long as the provider participates in Medicare and accepts the plan." (page 6)
- Upon request for clarification, HP Inc Corporate Benefits sent HPAA a more explicit email: "A national plan offering full flexibility to its members. This plan is not a network-based plan. HP retirees can see any provider who accepts Medicare and the UHC PPO plan. If a provider indicates they accept Medicare but do not accept the UnitedHealthcare Group Medicare Advantage (PPO) plan, the participant should call UHC at 1-877-456-7240, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., local time, Monday through Friday. TTY users, call 711. The provider and UHC can connect to explore having the provider accept the UHC plan."

- An individual Medicare plan is subsidized by HP only if you purchase through ARHE. (With an HP group plan, the company subsidy -- if any -- is not broken out separately -- it is factored into the price you pay.)

- If you have a problem, contact the insurance sales agency you purchased from. In the case of Aon Retiree Health Exchange, contact your Advisor. If the Advisor can't resolve your problem, they escalate it to Aon's special group of Advocates. (Because your are buying a standard individual policy via the sales agency, the company -- HP or HPE -- is out of the picture -- except for providing  the subsidy.) Contact the HP Benefits Center if there are problems with the subsidy payments.

- Changing back to an HP group plan from Medicare coverage via Aon Retiree Health Exchange:
HP Inc: "You’ll still have the option to enroll in HP coverage during future retiree benefits enrollment periods if you disenroll from Aon Retiree Health Exchange coverage or have a qualified life event."  HP Inc 2020 Annual Enrollment Guide: https://www.hpalumni.org/2020HPIncEnrollmentGuideAndChanges.pdf (page 6)
HPE: "You can change your election during each annual enrollment, including reenrolling in an HPE medical plan." HPE 2020 Retiree Enrollment Guide
https://www.hpalumni.org/2020HPEnterpriseRetireeEnrollmentGuide.pdf (page 18)


Next step: 5. Troubleshooting and contacts


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