CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – The University of Virginia is changing the way its retirees access healthcare.
The process is complicated, and not everyone is happy, but the goal is to reduce costs.
UVA is transitioning former employees not yet eligible for Medicare away from its rising retiree health insurance premiums. They are being directed to use an exchange platform that helps them evaluate, compare, and enroll in insurance planes.
However, it is meeting some backlash.
“The decision really has been that one that’s evolved over a number of years. It wasn’t one that we made in one single year,” UVA Benefits Director Rebecca Gristina said.
Rates for the UVA insurance plan have been on the rise since 2014.
“Where once we had 600 individuals that were part of a self-insured platform, we’re now at 204,” Gristina said. “We really needed to offer options that were more universally available to a broader range of retirees.”
One employee on the old, basic plan had a rate of $20 a month, and UVA paid $464.25. Once someone retires, they pay the entire cost of their plan, which is $756.75 for the old basic standard.
UVA is now offering its retirees who can’t enroll in Medicare yet the option to stay eligible for Medicare Advantage 65. This is by talking with Mercer Market Place365, an exchange platform.
“We’ve had a lot of individuals reach back out and share their experience,” Gristina said. “Some of the options ended up with much lower premiums than what they had, in some cases 50% and 75%, lower.”
It hasn’t all been positive.
Natalie Krovetz, a registered nurse for 38 years, says she felt like she got mixed messages about what to do.
Lori Sinden worked with UVA for nearly 30 years in the library and academic-medical side.
“I’m angry at how they are treating people who honestly believed they could stay on insurance until they qualified for Medicare,” Sinden said.
Others asked why they could not be grandfathered in and given the option to pay the rising premiums to keep all of their doctors.
“Our option was to provide a program that was more universally available, give folks all options, and not separate a group of individuals to receive a special platform that might not be available and affordable to everyone else,” Gristina said.
If you still need to schedule an appointment with Mercer, the number to call on Friday, December 31 is 1-888-434-1144.
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