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5. Medicare via HP or HPE  If receiving Medicare benefits from -- or subsidized by -- HP or HPE.

If you haven't already done so, start at Medicare - First step

Depending on age, years of service, and other factors, you may qualify for the "Pre-2003 HP Retiree Medical Program" -- as opposed to the current "HP Retiree Medical Program." ("2003" refers to the year when HP implemented the program, not necessarily your year of retirement.) We have a copy of HP's official "Pre-2003" criteria here:  hpalumni.org/Pre2003

Be sure to go through the critical info in your Enrollment Guide.

Critical points include: changing HP or HPE plans, dropping and re-enrolling, loss of spouse/partner's coverage, and dependent coverage following your death. (HP: Inside rear cover. HPE: Page 18.)


- Lots packed into an Enrollment Guide. Even if you have a paper copy, download the file and Use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases (Ctrl-F; Command-F on a Mac.) hpalumni.org/EnrollmentGuides

- Carefully go through the Annual Enrollment Coverage Statement, the personalized cover letter mailed with the Enrollment Guide. The Statement gives critical details that are not covered in the Guide -- such as the amount of any subsidy. Unlike the Enrollment Guide, your Coverage Statement is not available on your myhpbenefits.com account.

You can compare benefits and costs for all open-market policies -- Advantage, Drug, and Medigap -- available in your ZIP code on the official Medicare site. Gives estimated cost -- and contact info -- for each policy. (Notes: No sales agency, including ARHS, offers all policies available in your area. The official Medicare comparison site does not have information on any group policies, such as HP/HPE, that you might be qualified for.) https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare 

What happens when?

Dependent coverage coordination. Unlike group Medicare plans, which may cover dependents (such as a spouse/partner), a standard Medicare plan covers one individual. This complicates the transition from a pre-Medicare group employee or retiree plan to Medicare, since you and your spouse/partner are probably not the same age. Study the Enrollment Guide and work with your Benefits Center to set up coverage. AARP article "Younger Spouse Losing Health Insurance, Now What?"

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

Many insurance sales companies will contact you. You will receive mailings and phone solicitations from HMOs, insurance carriers (such as AARP/UHC) and insurance sales agencies who purchase lists, selected by age, from consumer data brokers. Your postal or email address was not provided by HP/HPE.

If eligible for Medicare, you will hear from the HP (or HPE) Benefits Center about group Medicare policies and also directly from the insurance sales agency that HP and HPE have selected to sell and administer company-subsidized individual, open-market Medicare policies to employees and retirees -- Alight Retiree Health Solutions (ARHS.)

ARHS sometimes sends letters before HP/HPE. If your current group plan is no longer available via HP/HPE, the ARHS letter will bluntly say that your group plan has been "terminated."

You may have two alternatives for your Medicare coverage -- depending on your HP/HPE retiree medical program:

1. Group Medicare policies are privately negotiated by HP or HPE and administered by the HP or HPE Benefits Center. Premiums reflect the cost of care across the HP or HPE retiree population, and are increasing. Group policies can be very different from similarly-named publicly-available individual policies purchased on the open market. May cover dependents or be better for those with pre-existing conditions or high medication costs. May have a broader network and service area, more comprehensive coverage, or different out-of-pocket costs and yearly limits. HP or HPE is the purchaser of the policy -- and can intervene on your behalf. Details and member advice: https://www.hpalumni.org/medicare-group

2. Individual, open-market Medicare policies are available through insurance sales agencies and directly from insurance companies. Policies vary on critical details -- such as network and service area, referrals and pre-approvals, out-of-pocket costs, and yearly limits. Premiums are based on the highly-competitive open market and across all customers of the insurer. HP and HPE have both selected a specific agency -- Alight Retiree Health Solutions -- to sell and administer policies that are subsidized by HP or HPE. (Note: No sales agency, including ARHS, offers all policies potentially available in your ZIP code.) Details and member advice: https://www.hpalumni.org/medicare-open-market

If you decline HP/HPE medical coverage: Depending on your situation, you can lose the ability to re-enroll in HP/HPE coverage -- and your surviving dependents will not be eligible for HP/HPE coverage. Details:  https://www.hpalumni.org/reenroll-restrictions

You must carefully compare the alternatives yourself. The ARHS sales agency does not have info on the HP/HPE private group policies. Member advice on how to compare policies: https://www.hpalumni.org/health-compare

Deadlines. The HP and HPE enrollment deadlines are much earlier than the Dec 7, 2023 national Medicare deadline to adjust your coverage for the next calendar year. (The national 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/HPE enrollment deadline -- for example, because you can't get an ARHS advisor appointment in time, or you have an application pending for an individual Medicare plan through ARHS -- HP and HPE recommend that you enroll in the best HP/HPE plan now and change later if necessary.

There is a confirmation and mop-up cycle after the stated HP/HPE deadline. However, members report that changes made too far after the original deadline may not be in place at your providers by January 1.

HPInc: "You must make corrections by December 15, 2023, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (8 p.m. Central Time). After that date, you won’t be able to make changes for 2024 unless you experience a qualified status change and call the HP Benefits Center within 60 days."
HPE: "If you need to correct your elections, notify the HPE Benefits Center before Dec 31, 2023."

If you have a change, contact your Benefits Center ASAP -- or contact the insurance sales agency that you purchased from, such as ARHS. "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 [the carrier] to get his new coverage entered into the system."

You can change back to an HP/HPE group plan from ARHS individual coverage, see your Enrollment Guide for limitations.

Next step: 5a. Decision: Group vs. Open Market  How to efficiently use the insurance sales/admin agency selected by HP and HPE.

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