1st Quarter 2012 Benefits Corner

Benefits Corner

By Al Horan, Chair, CRA Benefits Committee

January 2012


Well it’s hard to believe but another year and another Open Enrollment are behind us. From my perspective I believe that the Open Enrollment for 2012 went well. The only issue that I saw was perhaps the timelier mailing of the packages next year. Because of the size of the packages for the 2012 Enrollment some retirees received them later than expected. Chevron will work with their Service Center to improve the process for the 2013 Open Enrollment.

The Open Enrollment included approximately 56,000 eligible retirees. (About 85% of these retirees are eligible for Medicare.) Approximately 11% of this retiree group chose to change their Medical Plan election from their 2011 elections. Finally, about 26% made changes via the Chevron website. (The previous year 24% used the website.) The balance made changes by telephone.

As I mentioned on other occasions, the use of Generic and Mail Order prescription drugs are most effective in reducing your costs and the overall costs of the Medical Plans. Based on statistics for the Chevron Medical Plans that cover Medicare retirees, the Plans participants are selecting Generic drugs 75% of the time; and they are using Mail Order 60% of the time. When a retiree uses a Generic drug rather than a Preferred Brand Name drug they reduce their copayment to $5 from $21 for a 31 day supply of medication when it is purchased from a retailer. If they purchase a 90 day supply through Mail Order their copayment would be $10 for a Generic drug and $42 for a Preferred Brand Name drug. In addition, your pharmacy deductible of $320 per person does not apply when you use Generic drugs.  As you can quickly see it pays to use Generic drugs and Mail Order. Also when an individual uses Mail Order rather than a retailer they receive free the equivalent of a one month’s supply of medication. (At a retailer they would pay $15 for a 93 days’ supply of a Generic drug, and they would pay $63 for a 93 days’ supply of a Preferred Brand Name drug.)

I would encourage everyone who is now using a Brand Name drug to discuss with their doctor whether a Generic substitute is available. Likewise I would strongly encourage anyone who is purchasing their medication from a retailer to ask their doctor for a new prescription that will allow them to purchase their medication through Mail Order. 

Also, good news, the following popular Brand Name drugs are expected to lose their patent protections and therefore they should become available in Generic form in 2012 or 2013: Lipitor (Generic recently available), Plavix (Expiration May 2012), Singulair (Expiration August 2012), Actos (Expiration August 2012) and Diovan (Expiration September 2012). Besides these drugs there will be other Brand Name medications that will lose their patent protections between 2013 and 2015. In total between 2011 and 2015 there will be $74.5 billion in Brand Name drugs that will go off-patent. Be sure to watch these dates and speak to your doctor.

Before leaving the subject of Chevron Medical Plans, I would like to remind everyone that if you have a problem with a claim that you are not able to resolve please feel free to contact me or another member of the Benefits Committee. I have found over the years that the root cause of most problems is miscommunication. Generally by working with you, United Healthcare and Chevron most disputes can be resolved quickly and effortlessly. So please keep us in mind!

In closing, I would like to remind everyone that CRA is making available through MetLife an attractive Auto and Home Insurance Program. There are substantial discounts available by merely being a dues-paying member of CRA; and for your combined tenure with CRA and legacy retiree associations there are even further discounts. One member was able to reduce her auto insurance premium by 50%; another member was able to reduce his combined auto, homeowners and umbrella insurance premiums by 33%. So when you receive your package from MetLife be sure to look it over and consider asking them for a quote. A quote does not obligate you to switch insurers. However, before switching please be sure that the coverage under your current policy and the MetLife policy are alike. Also I would suggest that you ask them about issues like guaranteed renewal of coverage, claims handling (e.g. can you use your collision repair shop for an auto claim), etc. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.


Benefits Committee Contact Information:

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

Bill Dodge        Phone: 831-934-0680        Email: wndodge@sbcglobal.net

Linda Bulla      Phone: 615-832-1046 Email: jo2nlin3a@earthlink.net

Herb Farrington    Phone: 714-904-5825   Email: herbf76@msn.com

Virginia Benfield   Phone: 281-558-3807  Email: vbenfield@comcast.net