3rd Quarter 2013 Benefits Corner

by Al Horan 

Chevron Grants a Pension Supplementation Increase 

We are extremely pleased and very thankful to Chevron for granting a Pension Supplementation increase, which was effective on May 1, 2013. The increase is equal to 15 percent of the eligible pension with a minimum monthly increase of $25. It applies to most pensioners of the Chevron Retirement Plan who were not eligible to elect a lump sum settlement but who were eligible to elect Chevron Medical Plan retiree coverage when their pension commenced. Next, pension payments must have commenced before January 1, 2013. Approximately 8,000 retirees qualify for the increase. For any questions, please contact the Chevron Human Resources (HR) Service Center at 1-888-825-5247 (610-669-8535 outside the U.S.) between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., PT, Monday through Friday.


In addition to sharing information about the Pension Supplementation at our Annual Meeting, Chevron also advised that Open Enrollment for their Medical Plans for 2014 will take place between October 14 and 25, 2013.


1,200 Members in CRA Dental Program

At the Annual Meeting we also learned that CRA’s Dental Program has approximately 1,200 enrolled members. They represent about 9 percent of our dues-paying membership. From time-to-time, members have expressed a desire to enroll in the Dental Program. Unfortunately, at this time, the Program is open only to new dues-paying members or members who currently have dental coverage through a different program and who wish to change to the CRA Program. 


We also were informed that 106 policies have been issued under CRA’s Auto and Home Insurance Program. These policies cover auto, home, mobile home and similar risks. Approximately 50 percent of the policies were issued in Texas, Oklahoma, Connecticut and New York. This Program is available to all dues-paying members.


You may enroll at any time. For quotes and information, please contact MetLife at 1-877-491-5089 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday and Saturday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., ET.


Healthcare Insurance Required

As we draw closer to January 1, 2014 – and the implementation of the mandate that all U.S. citizens and legal aliens carry healthcare insurance – I hear our members express concern about what the future holds for them. It is my understanding that under the Health Care Reform Act, the mandate applies to active workers, retirees and anyone else who is a citizen or legal alien.


Generally, coverage is to be made available to active employees through their employers. Everyone else will be able to purchase coverage through a State or Federal Exchange, an insurance company or a former employer where coverage is made available, e.g. retirees.


In the case of anyone covered by Medicare or Medicaid, I understand they are not required to purchase additional insurance since these programs satisfy the mandate. In the case of Chevron retirees who are not covered by Medicare, they will be required to purchase healthcare coverage through Chevron (assuming they are eligible), an Exchange, an insurance carrier or other acceptable method, e.g. spouse’s employer, Medicaid (if eligible), etc.


Failure to comply may result in a fine that is expected to be: 2014 - $285; 2015 -$975 or 2016 - $2,085. Compliance will be monitored by the IRS through reporting of coverage by the provider.


A forecast of 60,000 fewer physicians by 2015

With the health insurance mandate, approximately 30 million individuals will have medical insurance for the first time. This group represents about 9 percent of the population. That number of individuals should place a strain on an already taxed medical care system.  Moreover, the Association of American Medical Colleges forecasts that by 2015 there will be 60,000 fewer physicians than needed. This situation could be further exacerbated if Congress decides not to continue the temporary higher reimbursement fee schedule for providers of medical care to Medicare participants. 


If the temporary schedule is not continued, Medicare fees will be cut by 27 percent. If that cut takes place, the American Medical Association expects to see more physicians limit the number of Medicare patients seen by them. In some cases, we may even see some physicians elect to leave the profession rather than accept the changes, e.g. “baby boomer” doctors.


Possible added strain on Medicare system

As we can quickly see, the changes in the number of insured individuals and the potential cut in Medicare allowable fees will place additional strains on an already taxed medical system. Depending upon demographics – and a whole host of other factors – some communities may be affected more than others.

In the longer term, "ObamaCare" is hoping to achieve a greater balance between supply and demand by fostering preventative care and accountable care. Through accountable care, it is expected that medical providers will work together to deliver comprehensive and continuous care, e.g., eliminate the need for duplicate testing, employ remote monitoring of patients, etc. 


Because of the degree of uncertainty that exists in the short term, if possible I would strongly urge you to consider remaining with your current medical provider. If this is not possible I would encourage you to visit either Medicare’s website, www.medicare.gov., or United Healthcare’s website, www.myuhc.com to find other providers.  Alternatively, Medicare can be contacted by phone at 1-800-633-4227 at any time (they are there 24/7) while UHC can be reached by phone at 1-800-654-0079 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., at All Time Zones, Monday through Friday.  


I hope you will find this information to be helpful and perhaps it will help to clear up any questions or misunderstanding about what will happen in 2014. 


Al Horan, Benefits Chair, Phone: 972-964-1787 Email: awhoran@verizon.net.