Understanding Medicare and the retiree health insurance plans offered by the University
The first part of this year’s UMRA health plan workshop featured a presentation by Jeff Snegosky, vice president for Medicare and Individual Government Markets at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. He provided an overview of the different parts of Medicare (A, B, C, and D), and then detailed the differences between the two basic types of plans for augmenting Original Medicare: Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Advantage plans, which are now the more popular choice. Key differences include:
- Medigap plans add to and pay for additional costs not covered by Original Medicare. Advantage plans replace Original Medicare with insurance from private insurance, which receives a fixed monthly payment for each enrollee.
- Medigap plans generally have higher premiums, but allow one to see any provider that accepts Medicare, whereas Advantage plans have networks of providers and pay less for care outside their network.
- Advantage plans have an annual maximum for out-of-pocket costs that enrollees must pay, while Medigap plans have no maximum.
- Advantage plans typically include payment for services not part of Original Medicare, including dental care, vision care, hearing aids, and health club memberships
The second part of the workshop was a presentation from Katie Kolodge, health and wellbeing consultant for the Office of Human Resources. She began by describing the things that set the U of M retiree plans apart from other plans. These include:
- richer pharmacy coverage
- lower out-of-pocket costs for medical care and plan maximums.
- vendors and plans vetted by the University
- convenience of having plans readily available at retirement
For 2024, there are few changes in the U of M plans offered. Detailed information can be found in the 2024 Benefits Enrollment Guide, by calling OHR at 612-624-8647, and by talking to individual insurance vendors.
Open Enrollment in the University’s plans for next year is November 1–30. Note that this ending date is earlier than the December 15 for general Medicare Open Enrollment.
During University Open Enrollment, those who already have University plans can continue with those plans, switch to other University plans, or leave the University plans. However, if you leave the University’s plans, you cannot return.
—Ron Matross, UMRA Program Committee
U of M retiree health plans and Medicare advantage vs. supplement plans
Thu, October 19 2023, 11am
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
UMRA’s annual workshop on Open Enrollment will once again feature an update on next year’s U of M retiree health plans, preceded by a background briefing to help you choose a plan to fit your needs. The briefing will be on the choice between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans. The choice between these two types of plans is fundamental and the first choice retirees need to make when deciding on their health insurance.
Our guest speaker for the plan type discussion will be Jeff Snegosky, vice president of Medicare and Individual Government Markets at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which offers both types of plans. He will offer an overview of the two plan types, and then go into detail on issues including costs, portability, networks, and breadth of coverage.
Following this discussion, Katie Kolodge, health and wellness consultant with the University’s Office of Human Resources, will talk about next year’s retiree health insurance plans offered by the University, discussing costs, changes in coverage, switching coverage, and due dates.
NOTE THE DATE: The workshop will be conducted from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, via Zoom. Please register now, mark your calendars, and be sure to attend this important workshop.
Open Enrollment begins November 1.
—Ron Matross, UMRA past president (2022–23)
UMRA’s Fourth Friday Book Club will discuss The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy when it meets on Friday, December 1. This is a departure from the usual fourth Friday meeting to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
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.
Knowing your family’s medical history is important, especially as we become more aware of the role played by genetics in many medical conditions. This presentation by UMRA member Michelle Casey will include suggestions for finding family death records—despite data challenges—based on Casey’s search for her own grandfather’s record.
Andy Whitman's Employee Benefits class will be holding an Oxford style debate on four different topics. During the debate a Board of Distinguished Professionals questions each Team, and finally comments on Team performance after the end of the debates.
Topics include tax changes; tax reducing moves required now and tax management in 2024.
It may seem like science fiction, but University of Minnesota researchers are exploring therapeutic interventions to treat aging and prevent age-related diseases. Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, leads the Medical School’s Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism, and will share her work on aging—and how to slow it down—for UMRA’s Living Well Workshop on Tuesday, January 16, via Zoom.
Pat Miles, former TV news anchor and journalist, lost her husband suddenly and found the financial and legal challenges to be overwhelming during her time of grief. She wrote a book about her experience, Before All Is Said and Done, incorporating wisdom from other unexpected widows, and will share her learnings for the first UMRA Forum of the New Year.
UMRA’s first Armchair Traveler program of 2024 will take us on travels close to home and to the edges of the earth with two fabulous presenters, Carol Urness and Kate Maple.
Join UMRA members at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville for an afternoon of comradery, food, and entertainment. After an hour of mingling and nosh, the highlight of this mid-winter event will be an hour of song and music by Twin Cities musicians Dane Stauffer and Dan Chouinard.
Prepayment of $35 per person; or $38 after Jan 5
If you are curious about insects in their astonishing variety, plan to join the UMRA Cabinets of Curiosity to tour the Insect Collection and Natural History Library in Hodson Hall.