The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

Clarifying Open Enrollment options for retirees

Tue, October 19 2021, 11am

Open Enrollment for 2022 medical and dental benefits available to University of Minnesota retirees is November 1-30. To clarify the bewildering array of insurance options facing us, UMRA and the U’s Office of Human Resources (OHR) co-hosted our October 19 workshop. First, representatives from the international consulting firm Willis Towers Watson portrayed the current marketplace in Minnesota for Medicare-eligible seniors. Key points from their presentation were:

  • Most Minnesota seniors get their health insurance in the individual market. Less than a third of larger Minnesota employers offer health insurance plans to their retirees.
  • Of those that do, only a fraction subsidize the premiums; retirees usually pay the full cost of the plans.
  • There are many companies offering Medicare supplement plans in Minnesota, ranging from regional non-profits like UCare to national, for-profit corporations like Aetna.
  • Policies offered include both Medigap plans that supplement traditional Medicare and Advantage plans that take the place of Medicare.
  • Premium costs vary from zero to several hundred dollars.
  • The cost of plans purchased on the individual market is generally lower than for those offered by group plans from employers (such as those from the University). The reason: employer plans have a risk pool of thousands, while the individual marketplace has a risk pool of millions.
  • Plan costs also vary because of differences in drug coverage, copays and coinsurance, breadth of coverage, the restrictiveness of physician networks, and other factors.
  • More expensive, high-end plans offer more extensive drug coverage, lower copays, broader networks, and more coverage of things not covered by Medicare, including vision, dental, and travel benefits.
  • Understanding all the options is a daunting task.
  • Insurance brokers are generally well versed in the choices available and can help us think through our individual situations and find a policy that fits. They usually do not charge for their services; they get paid by whichever company you choose.
  • If you don’t have a referral for a broker from someone you trust, a good place to start is the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433, a free, statewide service of the Minnesota Board on Aging in partnership with Minnesota’s area agencies on aging.

The workshop then turned to Ryan Reisdorfer and Katie Kolodge from OHR for a presentation of the University’s plans, beginning with a brief history of the U’s plans and what makes them distinctive.

  • In the Board of Regents Policy on Employee Health Benefits, a guiding principle is that the University is committed to providing employees, retirees, and their families a health plan that offers choice and high quality, comprehensive, and cost-effective care.
  • Of the more than 11,000 retirees currently with retirement funds managed by the U, only about 3,200 have health insurance plans from the University.
  • The U has chosen to offer high- and medium-end plans. OHR is looking at the possibility of expanding coverage options in the future.
  • One key difference between the high-end (Plan 1) plans and medium-end (Plan 2) plans is the extent of drug coverage.
  • The U plans are tailored to some of the particular needs of retirees, like travel coverage.
  • The U plans offer distinctive combinations of features that are unlikely to be found in plans on the individual market.
  • The companies and the plans used by the U are thoroughly vetted.
  • The U plans offer the possibility of simplifying your choices. This can be appealing if you start your retirement planning late or simply don’t want to face sorting through all the choices available.
  • OHR offers pre-retirement counseling, and those preparing for retirement should seek counseling a few months before their retirement date.
  • Each year during Open Enrollment, you can move from one U plan to another. However, if you leave you cannot later return to a U plan.

By November 1, you will receive the 2022 Benefit Enrollment Guide from OHR. It is also available online. The Guide includes tools that are intended to help you systematically assess the factors affecting your choice of plans. The cost of most of the U’s plans will go up for 2022, with increases varying from zero to seven percent.

Video presentations by the U’s plan vendors will be available at the Virtual Benefits Fair on the OHR website during Open Enrollment for University plans, November 1-30.

—Ron Matross, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair

Event recording
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Making sense of healthcare insurance options

Tue, October 19 2021, 11am

Meeting to be held via Zoom.

Is your mailbox filling with ads for health insurance plans as Open Enrollment for 2022 approaches? How can some plans offer zero premiums? Where do the University’s plans fit among all the options that are available?

Please register to attend this Zoom webinar on October 19.

This year’s health insurance workshop will help you sort through the possibilities and make an informed choice of plans. The workshop will begin with a presentation by representatives from the international insurance broker and consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Their presentation will talk about Medicare, the range of retiree health plans available in the Minnesota market, trends in senior plans, and what things you should consider when making a choice among them. 

In the next part of the workshop, representatives of the University of Minnesota Office of Human Resources (OHR) will talk about why the University has the plans that it does, what sets them apart from other plans, and more information about how premiums are adjusted each year.

OHR will then offer an overview of next year’s retiree health plans, the 2022 Retiree Benefits Annual Enrollment Guide, and online information resources.

Following the presentations, you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the presenters. And following the Q and A, you can view recorded information sessions from each of this year’s University plan vendors.

The workshop will be a virtual presentation via Zoom webinar, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 19. Please register and mark your calendars to attend this important workshop.

—Ron Matross, UMRA president-elect and Program Committee chair

Upcoming Events

Event Date: October 2, 2023, at 9:30am

We will meet at the Mel-O-Glaze bakery on 28th and Minnehaha Parkway and walk to Minnehaha Falls and then back again.

Event Date: October 3, 2023, at 1pm

Some of the most valuable and rare maps in the world are held in UMN's own James Ford Bell Library, housed in Andersen Library  See https://www.lib.umn.edu/collections/special/bell .

Event Date: October 4, 2023, at 10am

The first meeting of UMRA’s Family History Interest Group for 2023–24 will feature a presentation by Marilyn DeLong about sharing family stories and learning surprising family connections. 

Event Date: October 4, 2023, at 10am

UMRA has a special opportunity to engage with the four newest members of the U of M Board of Regents on Wednesday, October 4, via Zoom. The purpose of the event is to share our perspectives as former University employees. 

Event Date: October 10, 2023, at 12:30pm

All UMRA members with an interest in photography are welcome to attend the meeting of the UMRA Photo Club on Tuesday, October 10. We welcome photographers of all abilities. Most of us are struggling amateurs. We laugh a lot and learn from sharing and talking about our pictures.

Event Date: October 16, 2023, at 9:30am

The walk along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is always changing, with many attractions being added along both sides of the river and, now, the beautiful fall colors.

Event Date: October 19, 2023, at 11am

UMRA’s workshop on Open Enrollment for U of M retiree health plans for 2024 will include a briefing on the choice between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, by Jeff Snegosky of BCBS of Minnesota, followed by an overview of the U of M’s retiree health insurance plans, by Katie Kolodge from the Office of Human Resources.

Event Date: October 20, 2023, at 2pm

Mary Jane Towle will lead the discussion of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.

Event Date: October 24, 2023, at 11am

To help us understand the growing movement in the U.S. to ban books, especially children’s literature, and the critical role of libraries to protect intellectual freedom, UMRA will welcome U of M Librarian Lisa Von Drasek (pictured) and Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson as the guest speakers for our October luncheon forum at Midland Hills. 

Event Date: October 27, 2023, at 2pm

The Fourth Friday Book Club will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT on October 27 to discuss the life and narrative of Frederick Douglass.

Event Date: November 6, 2023, at 9:30am

Join us for a 5 mile moderately paced hike around Pleasant Lake located in the heart of North Oaks.  It takes us past some of James J. Hill’s original farm buildings as well as beautiful homes built along the lakeshore. The trail is wide, generally flat and consists of packed dirt and crushed rock. 

Event Date: November 6, 2023, at 9:40am

The documents noted for this event specify your managers and can minimize income taxes now, and estate taxes. 

Event Date: November 7, 2023, at 1pm

The material world we live in is shaped by design. While popular discussions of design typically focus on fashion and furniture, design is fundamental in art, architecture, and indeed nearly all aspects of the everyday world around us.  Goldstein Museum of Design curator Jean McElvain will demonstrate and discuss some of the fascinating and often unexpected holdings before we walk through the current gallery exhibit.

Event Date: November 27, 2023, at 9am - December 3, 2023, at 5pm

Get an insider's perspective on Santa Fe and Taos alongside local artists, exploring the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, enjoying traditional music and learning about native cultures. The deadline for reserving a space is June 2, 2023.

Event Date: December 4, 2023, at 9:30am

Please join us for an invigorating hike from The Monument located at the intersection of Mississippi RIver Blvd and Summit Avenue in St. Paul to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and back.  This hike is on paved trails, approximately 5.5 miles in length, and will be at a pace suitable to the weather.

Event Date: December 13, 2023, at 11:30am

Topics include tax changes; tax reducing moves required now and tax management in 2024 & 2025.