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


Medicare via HP or HPE If receiving benefits from or subsidized by HP (now legally named HP Inc.) or from HPE.

Advice and reference info from members. (Updated Jul 16, 2022.)  Website operated by volunteers. Not officially endorsed or supported. Comments: info@hpalumni.org

General healthplan heads-up:

1. Technically, you have 31 days to change if you lose coverage from an employer or other plan -- or have a status change such as marriage, divorce, or transition to Medicare. This is not unique to HP/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, if you don't sign up for each of the various Medicare elements when first eligible, you pay a late enrollment penalty for years.)  If you have such a change, contact your Benefits Center ASAP -- or contact the insurance agency that you bought the plan from, such as Alight Retiree Health Solutions (formerly Aon Retiree Health Exchange) ( Alight Retiree Health Solutions 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. (One member bought a low-cost drug plan. The plan was discontinued and they were moved to a high-cost plan. Next year, the low-cost plan was again available -- under a new name.) Member advice on comparing health plans: 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."

If benefits involve HP or HPE:

Depending on age, years of service, and other factors, you may qualify for what HP confusingly calls the "Pre-2003 HP Retiree Medical Program" -- as opposed to the current "HP Retiree Medical Program." ("2003" refers to the year in which HP cut back the program, not 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.)

Tip: 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. (Press Ctrl and F together on a PC -- or Command and F on a Mac.) hpalumni.org/EnrollmentGuides


What happens when?

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

Dependent coverage coordination. Unlike group plans, which cover dependents, a Medicare plan covers one individual. This complicates the transition from a 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?"
aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-09-2010/ask_ms_medicare_question_88.html 

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.

Group vs. Open-Market Medicare plans

You will hear from the HP (or HPE) Benefits Center and from an insurance brokerage that HP and HPE are among 150 organizations that have selected -- Alight Retiree Health Solutions.

1. Company-administered group Medicare plans.

The HP/HPE Benefits Centers administer the HP and HPE group Medicare plans in the same manner they administer the pre-Medicare plans -- all of which are "group" plans. The Benefits Centers are operated for HP by Alight Benefits Administration -- and operated for HPE by Bswift. You pay HP or HPE via their Benefits Center. (Alight Benefits Administration is a separate company from Alight Retiree Health Solutions.)

- Group plan features are customized for the specific employer -- and can be much more expensive than similar individual plans purchased on the highly-competitive open market.

- Premiums reflect the cost of care across the HP [or HPE] retiree population. (Why HP group plan costs are going up. hpalumni.org/health-cost )

- Some members have found that HP 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 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.

- HP/HPE Benefits Center phone agents do not have information on open-market plans -- and, not being licensed to represent insurance companies in your state, would not be legally allowed to discuss them.

- Member advice on comparing health plans: hpalumni.org/health-compare

- To purchase a group plan, you work with the people at the HP or HPE Benefits Center.

- Under a group plan, if you have a problem with a carrier or HMO, you work through the Benefits Center. HP or HPE is a customer of your insurance carrier or HMO -- and can escalate issues.

2. Company-subsidized open-market Medicare plans.

Alight Retiree Health Solutions (formerly Aon Retiree Health Exchange) is an insurance brokerage that carries a wide range of Medicare plans. HP and HPE are among 150 organizations that have selected Alight Retiree Health Solutions as their exclusive broker to provide company-subsidized open-market Medicare plans to employees and retirees. You pay list price directly to the carrier or HMO. You are then reimbursed through a special Retiree Reimbursement Account. (Alight Retiree Health Solutions is a separate company from Alight Benefits Administration, which runs the HP Benefits Center.)

- Premiums are based on the competitive market. They reflect the underlying cost of care across all the customers of a particular insurer.

- There are government specifications for open-market Advantage and Supplemental plans. A carrier may add additional features, but can't change the required basic coverage. (A common add-on is a limited membership at a gym looking to sell upgraded memberships. Even before the pandemic, the directory often included gyms that had gone downhill or gone out of business.)

- Many corporations are moving from group plans to open-market plans. For example, IBM and 3M use a similar insurance brokerage called "Via Benefits."

- If you qualify, an individual Medicare plan may be subsidized by the company -- but only if you purchase it through Alight Retiree Health Solutions. This is implied -- but not explicitly stated -- in the Enrollment Guide.

- HP's personalized Enrollment cover letter for 2022 said: "As a qualified retiree, you are eligible for HP funding to a Retiree Reimbursement Account (RRA) instead of HP subsidizing your retiree medical premiums directly. If you enroll in coverage through the Aon Retiree Health Exchange [now Alight Retiree Health Solutions], HP will fund an RRA... RRA allocations from HP are not available if you purchase an individual insurance option from sources other than the Aon Retiree Health Exchange [now Alight Retiree Health Solutions]." --from a Typical Enrollment Letter 

- The Retiree Reimbursement Account has no connection with any other account that you might have, such as a Health Savings Account, or the Medicare A and B premiums you pay via Social Security deductions or direct payments. 

- To purchase an open-market plan, you work with an Alight Retiree Health Solutions Benefits Advisor, who is Licensed Insurance Agent in your state. They do not have information on -- and would not be legally allowed to discuss -- the group plans available from HP, HPE, or other employers.

- You can explore your options without talking to Alight Retiree Health Solutions or creating an account (or without disturbing your current account settings.) Member advice: hpalumni.org/Medicare-ARHSComparison

- Alight Retiree Health Solutions does not offer all Medicare plans potentially available in your area. All plans are listed on the official Medicare site:
Advantage Plans:   https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/  
Medigap and Drug Plans: https://www.medicare.gov/medigap-supplemental-insurance-plans/

Prominent examples of plans that are not on the Alight website:

- AARP/UHC. Not all AARP Medicare plans are on the list of plans available from insurance agencies such as Alight Retiree Health Solutions -- you have to explicitly ask the advisor for the AARP/UHC plans. (Our Aon contact indicated 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. Alight will ask you for your member number, which needs to be current.

- Kaiser. Kaiser individual Medicare HMO plans are generally not on the list of plans available from insurance agencies such as Alight Retiree Health Solutions. However, company-subsidized Kaiser group Medicare HMO plans, which may have different benefits, are available through the HP and HPE Benefits Centers.

- Regence. Alight Retiree Health Solutions offers the popular Regence plans in ID -- unclear if available from Alight Retiree Health Solutions in OR, UT, or WA.  

- The list price for a given plan is the same whether you purchase it through Alight Retiree Health Solutions or any other agency. You pay the list price directly to the insurance carrier or HMO. Once Alight Retiree Health Solutions receives their commission from the carrier or HMO, your RRA subsidy is paid directly to you by HP or HPE. Details: RRA payment process

- Plans reimbursable through your RRA include: Advantage, Medigap, and Drug plans.

- Not reimbursable through your RRA: Medicare A and B premiums. Any additional insurance products that you might purchase through Alight Retiree Health Solutions -- such as separate dental, vision, or hearing plans.

- If you have a problem, you work through Alight Retiree Health Solutions -- the insurance agency you purchased from. HP/HPE and their Benefits Centers have no relationship with your insurance carrier or HMO. Alight Retiree Health Solutions has a special group to escalate issues with  carriers and HMOs.

You must carefully compare the alternatives yourself.

In more detail...

Deadlines. The HP and HPE enrollment deadlines are much earlier than the national Medicare deadline of December 7, 2021 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/HPE enrollment deadline -- for example, because you can't get an Alight Retiree Health Solutions advisor appointment in time, or you have an application pending for an individual Medicare plan through Alight Retiree Health Solutions -- 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. 

HP: "You must make corrections by December 17, 2021, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (8 p.m. Central Time). After that date, you won’t be able to make changes for 2022 unless you experience a qualified status change and call the HP Benefits Center within 60 days." --HP Enrollment Guides. 

HPE: "If you need to correct your elections, notify the HPE Benefits Center before December 31, 2021." --HPE Enrollment Guide.

You can change back to an HP/HPE group plan from Alight Retiree Health Solutions individual coverage, as indicated in your Annual Enrollment Guide.


How to explore the Alight Retiree Health Solutions alternative.

The amount of the subsidy you would receive if you choose to buy through Alight Retiree Health Solutions is shown in the body of the personalized Enrollment cover letter under the heading "HP premium reimbursements for Alight Retiree Health Solutions Retiree Health Exchange coverage." [See yellow highlights in our sample personalized cover letter: hpalumni.org/2021HPIncSampleStatement-Aon.pdf ]

That choice is given in the Enrollment cover letter and on the Benefits Center website as "Alight Retiree Health Solutions $0.00" or "Aon Retiree Health Exchange $0.00" -- because you pay the carrier directly.

Examine the Alight Retiree Health Solutions choices for your area -- with list prices that you pay directly to Alight Retiree Health Solutions -- without making any commitment. (You receive the RRA subsidy directly from HP.)

You can explore your options without talking to Alight Retiree Health Solutions or creating an account (or without disturbing your current account settings.) Member advice: hpalumni.org/Medicare-ARHSComparison

Alight Retiree Health Solutions for HP https://retiree.alight.com/hp
1-800-975-0355 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday 

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

Medicare ARHS Example

Heads up!  Alight Retiree Health Solutions does not offer all Medicare plans potentially available in your area.

Some plans are only available directly from the insurance company or HMO -- or only through other insurance agencies. Some are only available through Alight Retiree Health Solutions by special request.

The HP Enrollment Guide says: "...offers a broader selection of premium costs, benefit designs, and top carriers... ...some of the same medical carriers as HP... with very similar coverage and access to many of the same doctors and hospitals. ...none of these plans cover the exact services or provide the exact benefits as the HP options."

The HPE Enrollment Guide is less explicit: "...access to a range of medical plans offered through the individual insurance market... More than 100 insurance companies participate..."

Prepare for your call by using the Alight Retiree Health Solutions site:

- 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

Member tip: After the first year with Alight Retiree Health Solutions, "Don't bother with an Advisor, who is unlikely to know anything that you haven't already researched. They also take up a lot of your time. And from reports on this forum, they sometimes stand you up. Now that we are allowed to do our own enrollment on their web site, do that. It worked for me."

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


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


If formerly a regular, direct U.S. employee of HP or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA's Supporting Members.


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