Healthcare Post Retirement
Whether you're on the verge of retiring, or just looking down the road while you plan, retirement healthcare is a huge issue to most of us. How do we pay for it? What's covered? For how long?
Here we go...
HOW YOU PAY FOR IT
Anyone retiring after 2014 will have the Defined Dollar Subsidy to help pay for their insurance after they retire. This subsidy effectively acts as a discount when paying for your insurance plan, and the benefit is dependent on your years of service. THIS SUBSIDY IS ONLY FOR THE NIPSCO INSURANCE PLANS, it won't work on any other 3rd party insurance.
WHAT HEALTHCARE LOOKS LIKE POST RETIREMENT
Post retirement healthcare is divided up into pre 65 and post 65. Pre 65 is fairly cut and dried. In the days immediately following your official retirement, you are in an Open Enrollment period for healthcare options regardless of time of year, since retirement is considered a major life event. You get to choose between the traditional PPO plan or the High Deductible PPO plans with the same copays and deductibles that applied when you were working. Since 2014, we pay the full premium, minus the defined dollar subsidy mentioned above. Other than that, coverage remains the same, including prescription coverage.
To see what your premiums are likely to cost, click the Defined Dollar Calculator link on the left of our home screen, and enter your details in the boxes on the left of the spreadsheet. The numbers are accurate for the current year, pretty solid for the next year, less solid another year out, etc. The crystal ball gets murky pretty fast when talking healthcare costs. Also note that the Defined Dollar plan comes nowhere near paying for the traditional PPO, only for the HDPPO plans.
As you approach 65, you will begin getting bombarded with literature regarding Medicare supplement insurance. Included in this will be mail from Nisource. OPEN THIS ONE!
At 65 and retired, you have to take Medicare part A and B. Nisource doesn't have a comprehensive post 65 healthcare plan. The letter from Nisource will explain the process of transitioning to Medicare. If your spouse is younger than you and needs to maintain coverage under our plan, it is imperative that you respond to the company before your 65th birthday.
The way it works with a younger spouse is that IF YOU CONTACT BENEFITS before your 65th birthday, your spouse will remain on the Nisource plan until they turn 65, at a lower premium than you paid for the two of you, and with a lower defined dollar subsidy as well. If you don't contact benefits prior to your 65th birthday, they will drop coverage on your spouse the day YOU turn 65. Call them at (888) 640-3320 before you turn 65. Seriously, call them.
If you are retired and your spouse turns 65 before you do, call benefits and get your premium lowered, since your spouse has to go to Medicare at 65.
Medicare Part A is Major Medical, think hospitalization. You sign up at 65 through the social security administration. There is no premium, but there are copays and deductibles out of pocket. Sign up for it regardless of whether you're still working or not.
Medicare Part B is regular health care, doctor's office stuff. There is a premium, paid out of your social security check, as well as copays and deductibles out of pocket. You DO NOT have to sign up for Part B until you actually retire, since we have comprehensive coverage as employees. Recently several people have been told by Social Security office employees that they have to sign up for Part B at 65 regardless of employment status. That's not true, retirees have to take it, employees don't.
Medicare Part D is for prescription coverage. This is important: Every year Nisource sends out a confusing letter to post 65 retirees stating that although they have prescription coverage, Part D might be better for them. POST 65 UNION RETIREES DO NOT HAVE PRESCRIPTION COVERAGE, only some management retirees. We'll need Part D coverage, which is only available from 3rd party insurers.
OK. That's a lot to think about. Phew... But wait, there's more!
Remember the copays and deductibles for Part A and Part B? That's where medigap insurance comes in. It's basically an insurance that pays the bulk of your copays and deductibles from Medicare. Nisource offers a medigap policy of their own, and there is a defined dollar benefit to help offset the cost. Please remember, if you take medigap insurance from anybody else, there is no company subsidy to help pay for it. So when you're getting blasted with information regarding other people's plans, don't forget to factor in the discount we get from Nisource on their plan. Customized Medicare and Medigap premium predictions are also on the Defined Dollar worksheet accessed from the hotlink at the left side of the USW12775.org web page.
And last, but not least, if you are on any Nisource insurance plan, you still need to participate in the open enrollment period every year, if nothing else than to keep up to date on costs and changes to the plan.