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
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:
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."
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:
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.)
Medicare works differently! You have lots of work to do. If you haven't already done so,
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?"
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
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
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
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:
- 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
- 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
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:
- 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/
and Drug 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
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:
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
- 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
You must carefully compare the alternatives yourself.
In more detail...
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
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
HPE: "If you need to correct your elections, notify the
HPE Benefits Center before December 31, 2021." --HPE Enrollment
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:
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
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:
Alight Retiree Health Solutions for HP
1-800-975-0355 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday
Alight Retiree Health Solutions for HPE -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise
1-844-537-5303 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday
Medicare ARHS Example
- Enter your prescriptions -- which has a huge effect on which
plans work best for you.