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. "Younger Spouse Losing Health
Insurance, Now What?"
A couple of months before you reach 65 -- and during every
Annual Enrollment -- you will hear from multiple companies:
- The HP or HPE Benefits Center is operated for
HP by Alight
Solutions (operated for HPE by Bswift.) The Benefits Centers administers the
HP-custom group Medicare plans in the same manner they
administer the pre-Medicare plans, which are also custom
- Aon Retiree Health Exchange (ARHE) is an insurance
sales agency compensated through commissions paid by the
carriers and HMOs. HP and HPE have selected ARHE as the
exclusive broker to sell
company-subsidized standard individual Medicare plans to
their employees and retirees. You work with an ARHE agent who is licensed to sell
health insurance in your state. If you qualify for a
subsidy, an individual Medicare plan is subsidized by HP or
HPE only if
you purchase through ARHE. If you do not qualify for an HP or HPE
subsidy, the price for a given plan is the same whether
you purchase it through ARHE or another sales agency.
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. Your postal or email address was not provided by HP/HPE.
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 ARHE agent appointment in time, or you have
an application pending for an individual Medicare plan
through ARHE -- 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 Aon Retiree Health Exchange
individual coverage, as indicated in your
Annual Enrollment Guide.
How to explore the Aon Retiree
Health Exchange alternative.
The amount of the subsidy you would receive if you
choose to buy through ARHE is shown in the body of
the Enrollment cover letter under the heading "HP
premium reimbursements for Aon 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 "Aon Retiree
Health Exchange $0.00" -- because you pay the
Examine the ARHE choices for your area -- with list (i.e.
unsubsidized) prices -- without making any commitment:
ARHE for HP
1-800-975-0355 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday
ARHE for HPE -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise
1-844-537-5303 -- 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday
If you can't set up an account, you can see the same ARHE
choices for your area -- with list prices -- without
registering on the ARHE site. Go to
https://retiree.aon.com/home.aspx and enter your Zip
Code in the "Find Medicare Plans" box.
The Aon website does not display all Medicare plans
available in your area. Some plans are only available
directly from the insurance company or HMO
or only through
other insurance sales agencies. "...that is the decision of the carrier."
--HPAA's management contact at ARHE. Two examples:
- AARP/UHC. Not all AARP Medicare plans are 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:
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. However,
group Kaiser regional Medicare HMO plans are available
through the Benefits Center.
The first year with ARHE, prepare for your call by using the ARHE 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
Member tip: After the first year with ARHE, "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 the ARHE web site, do that. It worked for me."
You must carefully compare the alternatives yourself. Aon
agents do not have information on -- and would not be
legally allowed to discuss -- the HP/HPE group plans; nor do
the Benefits Center agents have information on open-market
individual plans. Similar-sounding group plans and individual plans from
the same carrier may have very different coverage features.
"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 Corporate Benefits
- HPAA member advice on comparing health plans in general:
- You can explore your options without
creating an Aon account yet (or without disturbing your current
Aon account settings.)
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.
How the ARHE payment process works.
At the start of the year, the company funds a
Retiree Reimbursement Account (RRA.)
1. You pay the carrier monthly, usually via direct
debit from your checking account.
2. The carrier notifies Aon (and pays Aon a sales
commission for that month.)
3. Aon notifies the Benefits Center of the amount
4. The Benefits Center rebates that amount to you
via direct deposit to your checking account -- and
subtracts the amount from your RRA.
5. When your RRA is almost depleted for the year,
you get a partial rebate for that month. Then, the
rebates stop until next year.
Members report that, once it is set up, this
process works very well
This ensures that the funds were spent on health
insurance -- therefore, neither you nor the company
pay income tax on it.
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 Benefits Center if there are
problems with the subsidy payments.