Don’t fret: Retirees & their families can get affordable health plans while keeping their HRA benefits!
People who have retired from the Seventh-Day Adventists umbrella of organizations will lose their health care at the end of 2016! Church employees, school teachers, and others who have worked for the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) have had coverage through their SHARP program for years….and in the blink of an eye, it’ll all be gone!
I’m Belinda Green, one of the friendly Agents at My Medicare Partners. I also happen to be a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and am very happy to help my fellow congregants!
I’m our in-house expert on the SDA retirement plan and know how to ensure you get a great Medicare plan while keeping your costs low. If you have any questions about the changes to SDA retirees, you can reach me on my direct phone line at 561-228-1584 or email me at Belinda@mymedicarepartners.com.
Read on for more important information for SDA retirees and their families!
What Benefits Are Changing?
The Supplemental Healthcare Adventist Retirement Plan, also known as SHARP, has provided retirees and their families with health, dental, and other benefits for many years. But due to the rising costs of healthcare, the Church and its organizations will be ending coverage on December 31, 2016.
SDA has partnered with a large insurance brokerage, AON Retiree Exchange, to offer retirees new plans.
However, the plans being offered through AON are not competitively priced and their options are greatly limited.
How and When Can I Sign Up for a Medicare Plan?
Signing up for a new plan is easy. In fact, since your current coverage is being terminated and will no longer be offered, you even qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. When someone qualifies for a Special Enrollment Period, they are able to sign up for any Medicare plan and cannot be excluded for preexisting health conditions.
The Special Enrollment Period is not indefinite, so it’s important to sign up for replacement coverage sooner rather than later!
Like other insurance brokers like AON, My Medicare Partners offers plans through several insurance carriers such as Aetna, United, Mutual of Omaha, and more.
Unlike AON, My Medicare Partners offers A-rated insurance companies that have a significant amount of clients, ensuring you have the customer service and healthcare you need. These companies are highly rated and are considered financially stable and serve their members well. Not all insurance companies (or insurance agents) are created equal.
Furthermore, you want to work with an agent who represents a variety of Medicare insurance companies so you can compare rates. Medicare Supplement plans are all standardized, meaning a Plan G offered by Company #1 is the same Plan G offered by Company #2…. But Company #1 may change $53 more a month for the same plan and may only have a few hundred people on their plan! It may seem hard to believe that two companies can charge different amounts for the same product, but it’s true!
Why pay more for the same benefits when you can shop around for an affordable price, a highly rated company, and an agent who has your best interest in mind?
Can I keep my Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) benefits?
The main question SDA retirees have been asking me is, “Can I enroll in my Medicare plan with a company other than AON and still keep my HRA benefits?”
The answer is Yes! Retirees do not need to enroll in health care coverage through AON to keep their HRA benefits. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) are employer-funded savings plans that allow employees to use the funds for healthcare expenses. HRAs can be used to pay for the cost of medical services or for premiums.
Seventh-Day Adventist retirees have been blessed to receive these benefits… And they’re not being taken away!
In fact, you only need to enroll in one plan through AON for your HRA benefits to remain. You may choose to enroll in a dental+vision plan or a prescription drug plan and your HRA benefits will remain in place. There’s no need to enroll in a Medicare plan through AON when you’re able to find more affordable prices elsewhere.
In fact, we actually recommend that you do enroll in your dental+vision plan through AON! It’s the same plan you’ve had in years past and by enrolling in just the dental+vision plan, you’ll be able to keep your HRA benefits. But you won’t be tied down by limited Medicare plan options!
While you could also select a Part D drug plan through the AON Exchange, we recommend you look into plans My Medicare Partners offers to cover your drugs. We offer plans that have a $0 drug deductible, keeping costs low and avoiding surprises!
As a side note, I highly recommend you audit your prescription drug coverage
annually. As your drug needs change, your costs may change too — so why wouldn’t
you change your Medicare Part D plan?
It’s important you make sure you have a plan that fits your needs and budget! With over 800 available drug plans, who has time to research each year? I do!
I’m happy to help provide you with a Free Rx Checkup anytime! Just give me a call directly at 561-228-1584 or click here to get your Free Rx Checkup started
Also, keep in mind that your HRA benefits can be used to pay for your Medicare Part B premium. The Part B premium must be paid in order to keep your Medicare (which you’d never want to get rid of!), so why not use some of your HRA benefits to help lower the cost?
Should I enroll in a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan?
When it comes to enhancing your Medicare, you have two very different options: Medicare Supplements (also known as MediGap) or Medicare Advantage (also known as MA or MAPD). The plans’ features and benefits could not be more different.
As you can see, Medicare Supplement plans allow much more flexibility, convenience, and cost savings than Medicare Advantage plans.
Keep in mind that the SHARP benefits SDA retirees previously had are very similar to Medicare Supplement: both allow you to visit any Medicare doctor in the USA and do not require referrals for specialist visits.
AON is offering Medicare Advantage plans as well, which some folks find confusing. I caution against switching from a Medicare Supplement-like plan to an MA plan. Medicare Advantage plans are much more restrictive than MediGap plans and would be quite the nuisance for people not used to jumping through Medicare Advantage’s hoops!
So, Now What?
Rather than enroll in a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan through AON, you should weigh your options and make sure you have an agent who has your best interests at heart. A large company like AON has hundreds of agents – meaning each time you call, you’ll speak to a different representative who’s unfamiliar with your healthcare needs. My Medicare Partners, on the other hand, makes sure you have a person licensed Medicare Agent who personally knows you and your situation.
Independent agents allow you to look into additional plan options, as our loyalty does not lie with one insurance company in particular. We do what’s best for you. We’re putting you first… Always.