2nd Quarter 2006 Benefits Corner

by Ken Smith, CRA's Benefits Chairperson

Focusing on the new "Booklet" plus deductibles, foreign travel coverage

By now, all of you should have received the CRA's helpful new booklet, "What Your Survivors Will Need to Know." Having recently lost my father, I cannot begin to tell you the importance of having all necessary financial and personal data in one convenient place in a concise and understandable format. Death is never an easy thing to deal with but it often occurs at the most unexpected time. Preparing well in advance for it can make dealing with any loss somewhat easier for our survivors.

This booklet is not intended to replace similar instruments you already may have prepared. Nor is it intended to be a replacement for consulting with your lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. It is simply a handy guide to ensure that each of us has documented the things that are important to us and to our survivors. However, if you have not yet created and documented the information called for in the booklet, please do so without delay.

The arrival of the New Year means - for those enrolled in the Chevron Medical Plan, Chevron Medicare Plus Plan or Chevron Senior Care Plan - that we must deal with a new year of deductibles with regard to both prescriptions and health care. For retirees who are enrolled in one of these plans and use the mail order prescription drug service (administered by MEDCO), this is a reminder that there is NO annual deductible incurred when ordering drugs through the mail. Deductibles are only incurred when prescriptions are ordered through a local pharmacy. If you are enrolled in an HMO, using mail order for your maintenance drugs can also result in significant savings.

And, while we are talking about savings, don't forget that - for non-Medicare eligible retirees under the Chevron plans listed above - the allowable payment for annual preventive care has been increased for 2006 from $300 to $500. In addition, there is no copay associated with this benefit. (Note: this benefit is not applicable to Medicare eligible retirees).

So if YOU are eligible, make sure to take advantage of this very valuable benefit. Also, be certain the doctor specifies in his/her coding to the insurance company that the services and associated lab work are preventive care in nature. Most errors in billing by insurance companies are due to miscoding by physicians - not mistakes on the part of our health plan vendors.

Finally, I want to address those of our retiree population who enjoy traveling outside the United States. Foreign travel is one of many pastimes enjoyed by an increasing number of our retirees.

In the past few months, I've had inquiries regarding what kind of health care benefits are available - both in emergency and non-emergency services - while traveling in foreign lands. Depending on your specific health care plan, those services may vary from emergency-only to coverage for non-emergency at the out-of-network rate.

Therefore, before leaving the USA, the wise thing for traveling retirees is to review your specific health plan so you're fully aware of what is and what isn't covered. And remember to take all necessary medical documentation when traveling, including a list of prescriptions as well as the names and phone numbers of your physician and other health care providers.

Don't forget, too, that if you have an issue or a problem that you haven't been able to resolve, feel free to contact me from wherever you live at kennethsmiith@aol.com. Recently, I have had inquiries from outside the U.S., including Europe, Brazil and Australia. It's great to know that our Encore newsletter is being read in such faroff places. Here's wishing you a safe, healthy and prosperous 2006.