2011 Retiree Health Care Plan Changes Detailed

In its continuing efforts to balance cost-control with providing high-quality health care benefits, Penn State is making some modifications to its retiree health care plan for 2011, including the introduction of some new cost-sharing elements. Penn State remains committed to providing comprehensive medical and prescription drug coverage to retirees. Each year, careful consideration is given to balancing the University’s health care budget with concern for retirees’ ability to afford Penn State’s comprehensive coverage.

Beginning in 2011, a few changes to the plan will be necessary.

— Because of changes in Medicare regulations, Penn State’s Medicare-eligible retirees and Medicare-eligible household members will transition from Highmark’s FreedomBlue PFFS plan to the very similar Highmark FreedomBlue PPO (a Medicare Preferred Provider Organization) after Dec. 31, 2010. This comprehensive medical and prescription drug plan will replace retirees’ current FreedomBlue PFFS plan.

— The retiree contribution will increase by $2 per person per month for retirees and their dependents who were retired and age 70 prior to Jan. 1, 2007. All other retirees and dependents will have a $4 per person per month increase.

— Member cost-sharing in the plan will increase for some services. In-network benefits will be nearly identical, except for a $5 increase (from $15 to $20) in copayment for a specialist office visit, and a change to the mail order prescription drug benefit, causing copayments for a 90-day prescription to be double the current cost of a 34-day prescription.

— Retirees who prefer to use an out-of-network provider will be responsible for an annual $250 deductible and 10 percent coinsurance up to a $500 maximum. The most a retiree will be responsible for when using an out-of-network provider is $500 annually.

It is important to note that at this time, Geisinger Health System has made the business decision not to join Highmark’s FreedomBlue PPO network. Geisinger’s decision means that Penn State retirees who use Geisinger physicians or facilities will be responsible for the additional costs of the out-of-network benefit. The most a retiree would be responsible for when seeking care at Geisinger is $500 annually.

Retirees will be enrolled in the new program automatically, and should continue to show providers their FreedomBlue PFFS ID card for health care and prescription drug services received through Dec. 31, 2010. New FreedomBlue PPO ID cards will be received on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

The annual Penn State Retiree Fair will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 18. Retirees who attend will be able to learn more about Highmark’s FreedomBlue PPO and speak with a Highmark representative in person.

Retirees who have questions or who would like to speak to a Highmark FreedomBlue PPO plan representative can call 866-918-5285 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday. For the hearing impaired, call 800-988-0668.

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