1st Quarter 2017 Benefits Corner


By Al Horan

Al Horan Captioned Q2 2015

Happy New Year! I hope that you had a good holiday season.

Post-65 Retiree Health Coverage

Open Enrollment and the switch to OneExchange are behind us and the results are in. There were 58,000 individuals who were eligible to elect health coverage. (This includes 43,000 who were members of a Chevron Medical Plan in 2016.) Of this total, more than 40,000 elected coverage through OneExchange. While the enrollment process was arduous, many retirees found that the change offered freedom in being able to choose health coverage that better matches their needs. Today, a friend phoned to say how pleased he is with the new drug coverage because his medication cost him $3 instead of $366 under the former Chevron plan.

Just a reminder that you should let your medical providers know that you have different medical and drug coverage. (However, it will not be necessary to notify Medicare of the change since the new insurer should notify Medicare. If you wish to verify that the change has been made you can phone Medicare and ask for the name of the insurer that is shown for the “crossover”.) You will also need new prescriptions for all your medications, unless you remained with Express Scripts. (You should probably ask the insurer of you drug coverage for the best way of getting the new prescriptions to them, i.e. mail, fax, etc.) I would also encourage you to register on your new insurers’ websites. (This is an easy way of seeing claim payments and renewing medications.)

Don’t forget that in order to receive payment of Chevron’s contribution you will need to take action. OneExchange will deposit the Company’s contribution to your Health Reimbursement Arrangement and, if applicable, to your spouse’s HRA. In the packet that was recently mailed to you, there are instructions on how to receive payment from your HRA. (The cover letter is titled “Your Welcome Letter, Access & Manage Your Reimbursement Funds”.) I found that the simplest way for me was to log into my OneExchange account and set up automatic distributions from my account and my wife’s account. 

In the future if you have changes to your contact information (mailing address, telephone number or email address) you should notify your new insurers, OneExchange and the Chevron HR Service Center. If you should have issues with your coverage, you will need to deal with the insurer. However, if you should need assistance, you should contact OneExchange and finally a member of the CRA Benefits Committee if the insurer and OneExchange are unable to help.

Finally, if you previously had dental coverage through CRA this coverage will automatically continue. You need not take any action.

Pre-65 Retiree Health Coverage

As you are aware, there have been numerous changes to your Chevron medical coverage and, if applicable, your Chevron dental coverage. The changes were made to help reduce medical claim costs. Also changes were made to plan providers for a more efficient and cost effective manner of providing administrative services.

In the future, you will need to contact Anthem Blue Cross for medical claim issues and DeltaCare USA for dental claim issues pertaining to a Chevron Dental Plan. If you should have dental coverage through CRA, you will need to contact MetLife. (Drug coverage will continue to be provided through Express Scripts and vision coverage will continue through VSP.) If you should need to add or drop a dependent, cancel your coverage, or change your contact information (mailing address, telephone number or email address), you should contact the Chevron HR Service Center. However, if you should require assistance, please contact a member of the CRA Benefits Committee for help.

Just like the Post-65 retirees, you should let your medical providers know about the changes in your medical coverage and, if applicable, your Chevron dental coverage. Since there are different levels of claim reimbursement under the medical plans for network and non-network providers, you should check with your providers to be sure that they are part of the Anthem network. 

Medicare / Social Security Update

Effective January 1, 2017 the following changes took place: 

For Medicare Part A, the deductible for each benefit period increased to $1,316 from $1,288.  For Part B, the monthly premium (which is based on income) for most covered individuals increased to $134 from $121.80; and the annual deductible increased to $183 from $166.  More specific information on Medicare changes for 2017 is available on www.medicare.gov

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced an increase in Social Security benefits of 0.3% for 2017. This increased amount is a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA); SSA ties the annual COLA to increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as determined by the U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Also, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) increased to $127,200 from $118,500.  SSA’s website is www.ssa.gov.

Tips and Helpful Information

I would like to share the following tips and information.

Older People are Less Stressed and Happier
Did you know that a new study suggests that older adults are generally less stressed and happier with their lives than younger people? The study found that on average the mental well-being of individuals improved as they aged. Probably the reason for the change comes from the perspective and wisdom that come from life experiences. As we age we gain a better sense of what is really important and we gain wisdom that helps us deal with bad times.

Source: The Dallas Morning News, December 4, 2016

Osteoporosis is also a Man’s Problem
It’s not just a woman’s disease. Men experience about half as many osteoporotic fractures as women. However, when a man breaks a hip he is more likely to be permanently disabled or twice as likely to die within a year. As men age they lose bone density at the rate of 1% a year, and one in five men over age 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime. Every man over age 70 should have a bone density test. Common risk factors for a fracture include being thin, smoking, consuming more than three alcoholic drinks per day, or having a family history of osteoporosis. Also, certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and stroke, or certain medications like Prednisone and Antidepressants increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Source: The New York Times, October 4, 2016

Recovering from a Stroke
Fifty years ago doctors thought that recovery was limited. Now, individuals have far more control over their recovery. Rehabilitation teams have high expectations for what their patients can achieve. They will work long and hard to help their patients recover. Experts agree that earlier and intensive rehabilitation increase the odds of recovering more function. Part of recovery is addressing the psychological well being of the patient. Many individuals suffer from depression because they grieve their pre-stroke life and capabilities. Part of recovery is addressing depression by seeking professional therapy and counseling.

Source: Neurology Now, October/November 2016

In closing I would like to thank all of you for your interest and positive feedback I received over the years. I very much enjoyed meeting many of you either in person or by phone. This is my last article since I have retired for medical reasons.

I would like to wish you all the best for a Happy and Healthy New Year.

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

Benefits Committee – Contact Information

Lezley Barth
(816) 506-0026

Jim Bateman
(916) 467-7520

Linda Bulla
(615) 832-1046

Bill Dodge
(832) 934-0680

Mark Engelbrecht
(337) 984-6490

Herb Farrington
(714) 904-5825

Paul Murrell
(415) 238-3954

Carl Pataky
(915) 584-9306

Jim Schultz
(925) 368-8628

Jos Van Der Velden
(604) 542-2049