We have been informed by the TRB that it is NOT a total Open Enrollment. Only those who which to switch from the UHC Supplement plan to the UHC Advantage plan are eligible to make a change by March 31.
Time-Limited Window to Make a Change in Your Insurance Plan before March 31, 2022
Change of heart? Change of circumstance? Change of health insurance plan?
Just when we thought we had finished with health insurance talk and decisions, an opportunity has opened to switch plans from the Supplement to the Advantage Plan, before March 31, 2022. This opportunity was precipitated by some changes in coverage between UMass Medical and UHC. While that change most directly impacted retirees who live in Massachusetts or in Connecticut near the Massachusetts border, the opportunity to make a switch from Supplement Plan to the Advantage Plan has been opened to all retirees who participate in TRB health insurance programs wherever they live through the USA. The letter from the TRB left some questions unanswered, but it appears that members who disenrolled because of the lack of coverage from the UMass system may now reenroll in either plan. Others who are enrolled in a Supplement Plan may choose to change to the Advantage plan. Although Medicare and Connecticut statutes allow for a change from the Advantage Plan to a Supplement, the TRB does not.
In order to make a switch, you must contact United HealthCare directly before March 31, 2022. You are advised to record the name of the person with whom you speak, the date of your call, and then follow up to see that the change was made.
To change your plan election or to request re-enrollment, call UnitedHealthcare at
1-866-794-3033, TTY 711, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.
As a reminder, if you experience any difficulties with your new health insurance coverage, it is suggested that you pass along your information to the Executive Director of the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut at firstname.lastname@example.org as they are compiling information about our experience with the new health insurance. For example, a member was told she had two deductibles to satisfy for the Advantage plan and this is not the case. Pay attention during the transition to UHC.
Hearing Aid Coverage
As we discuss our plan options for health insurance coverage, The Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut, ARTC, called attention to some important details about our coverage for hearing aids. Although you may see any provider for a hearing exam, everyone on either plan is restricted to using the UHC Hearing Network in order to have any coverage for hearing aids. Costco has been a popular source for hearing aids, but it is not an in-network provider. If you have a hearing aid that you purchased while on the Anthem plan and it is in need of service, UHC will not cover or reimburse for service on hearing aids that were NOT purchased through the UHC network. If you purchased hearing aids while covered under Anthem, you are eligible to receive new hearing aids under UnitedHealthcare through an in-network provider. The Advantage plan covers up to $1500 every three years, while the Supplement plan covers up to $5000 every two years. The coverage eligibility plan for everyone began on January 1, 2022.
What about Medicare- Is it free? Can I purchase access to Medicare?
This information is intended for those retirees who do not have Medicare and are not eligible to participate in the TRB health insurance programs. The answers may surprise you. Medicare is not free to participants and you may purchase access to Medicare.
People who qualify for Medicare, based on their work history or through a spouse or former spouse, do receive the most expensive part of Medicare, Part A hospitalization coverage, premium-free, but this part may also be purchased for a monthly fee.
Beyond Part A, everyone pays a monthly fee for the remaining portions of Medicare. For 2022, that monthly premium is $170.10, although there are income-based surcharges that can bring that monthly premium as high as $578.30. To participate in the TRB health insurance, we must also have Part D coverage for prescriptions. For income below $91,000 per individual or $182,000 per couple filing jointly, there is no additional charge, but income surcharges can raise those Part D monthly premiums as high as an additional $70.90. So, you see that Medicare is not free. These monthly payments are deducted from a recipient’s Social Security checks. If cuts made due to the WEP leave too little money to cover the Medicare fees, the balance is paid by the individual directly to Medicare.
Collect the information as it pertains to you, do the math, and see if you may pay less to purchase access to Medicare and use the TRB insurance than the cost of health insurance purchased through your former Board of Education. Most likely, you would purchase Medicare Part A without a TRB subsidy because you would then have access to the subsidized health insurance offered by the TRB. If you would like to explore purchasing access to Medicare, you can find information about the process and cost at these sites:
State Income Tax Exemption Reminder for Connecticut Residents
When filing your 2021 Connecticut Income Tax, don’t forget to use line 45 so that you pay tax on 50% of the amount you receive from the TRB. Federal taxes apply to the entire amount.
Line 45: 50% of Connecticut Teachers’ Retirement Pay
Subtract 50% of the income received from the Connecticut Teachers’ Retirement System, provided you properly included such income in federal adjusted gross income for federal income tax purposes. You must have received a Form 1099-R from the Connecticut Teachers’ Retirement Board to be eligible for the subtraction modification. See Special Notice 2021(6), 2021 Legislative Changes Affecting the Income Tax.
Social Security Fairness
Social Security Fairness is making a push to have the proposals brought to the Floor for a vote. It is important that you contact representatives with your stories of how the WEP and GPO have impacted you. It is especially important for retirees who live outside of Connecticut to make contact with their legislators to broaden support for these fairness initiatives as our Connecticut legislators are already supporting these efforts.
Information about our generous book awards applications can be found here. Please spread the word.
Our membership goes from – January to December. If you have not yet joined, click here for our membership renewal information for 2022. Remember: Numbers matter and we still face many important issues regarding our pension and health insurance.
- If in doubt about your membership status, please contact Janess Coffina at email@example.com
- Make sure your check is complete (date, amount, signature.)
- Retain the membership card portion.
- Include your check with the completed information section of the card in the provided envelope.
SFCRTA is a 501(c)3 organization, so any donation you choose to make beyond the membership dues is tax deductible.