Having spent far too long fruitlessly searching for good reasons for the University System of Georgia’s decisions about Medicare-eligible retirees’ health insurance—and griping about it—it has clearly become time for me to decide exactly what I’ll be doing with my health benefit come the new year (and, perhaps, trying to do that with better humor). After all, Aon-Hewitt did send my registration information enabling online work with their website and my initial appointment time with my licensed Benefits Advisor (i.e. insurance agent).
After getting into their marketplace website, I worked through the action items immediately facing me. I created my new login ID and password and entered in my address, phone number, birthdate and preference for dressing on the right or on the left. I also entered my prescription medication names and dosage, and indicated that I haven’t yet delegated responsibility for my own health-related decision-making to someone else, though I certainly may before this is all over.
I also took Aon-Hewitt up on their offer to let me change my appointment with my advisor, as I didn’t really want to wait for the December date they had selected. I clicked on Oct. 5, but alas, no time slots were available that day. Oct. 6 did have some morning slots, so I checked the 8–11 a.m. time window. Within a day, I got an email confirming my appointment for that time—but on Oct. 5. That was fine; after all, I had asked for that date first. Their email also agreed with the big, fancy postcard that showed up in my mailbox a couple of days ago indicating that some foxy-looking senior lady had somehow “missed me.” I wonder if a female retiree gets a similar postcard with a hunky-looking senior guy?
Once logged into their website, it is possible to look for available plans: Medigap, Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage. There are some Medigap plans noted there—16 across three companies as of Sept. 15—though Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D drug plans aren’t there yet. (Wait ‘til Oct. 1!)
I have made some initial efforts on Sept. 15 to look at their currently posted Medigap plans. I had already decided to focus on Plan F and/or Plan G options, as those seemed to offer the most extensive coverage. I’m pretty intolerant of risk, after all.
I confess to hoping that by Oct. 1 more options for Medigap will be available. Only three companies show up now, and only one of them offers a Plan G—something that is a far cry from the 90-plus companies touted by Aon-Hewitt in the super-fancy booklet they sent us the other day. Right now, my biggest questions have to do with the variation in Plan F pricing already there. Transamerica offers one for about $144 per month, Aetna for $168 and our old friend Blue Cross Blue Shield for $185. Does the BCBS Plan F offer something better than the one from Aetna? And do either of them have some things that Transamerica doesn’t?
Here’s an update on Sept. 16, just to make it clear that changes are happening. This morning, Aon-Hewitt added another company to its online list offering Medigap coverage: Cigna. It expanded Plan F offerings along with establishing a new high for our potential monthly premium at $225 per month. At the moment, none of the various links takes me where I can figure out just what makes the Cigna Plan F so over-the-top costly. Their documents for each policy note that they are just summaries, and that only the full policy itself constitutes a legally binding document. Oh, well. Yet more questions for my advisor.
By the time my appointment rolls around, I hope to see how things may shape up with prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. What little I’ve seen of Part D plans outside of our little private market suggests quite a range in what my total annual drug costs may be, depending on the company and plans. I do know that whole issue will get a lot better when we get to 2020 when, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the “donut hole” in prescription medicine coverage is supposed to go away. Thanks to my blood pressure and cholesterol meds, I’m guaranteed to fall into that about halfway through next year.
So, my journey toward “better, cheaper health insurance more attuned to my individual needs” has started. I just hope it turns out to be a lot more realistic than the TV ads for Viagra, with the hot-looking 40-something woman who strolls from the private pool to the lavish bedroom, where she waxes eloquent about the benefits (and dangers) of that medication.