Feb. 16--State Farm retirees face uncertain change in health coverage
BLOOMINGTON -- Ongoing, unresolved technical problems have led State Farm Insurance Cos. to suspend temporarily its current program to help ret... Read more
BLOOMINGTON -- About 15,000 State Farm Insurance Cos. retirees that were temporarily allowed to remain on the company's group medical plan will have to find alternative coverage by June 1, the company said Friday.
Open enrollment for Medicare-eligible retirees will begin in mid-March, and the company said it's confident the problems that emerged during an initial attempt at transition in 2011 have since been resolved. Assistance in finding new coverage again will be available from Aon Hewitt Navigators -- the firm that battled the problems -- but it's optional.
"We regret that the first attempt caused quite a bit of inconvenience and confusion for some of our retirees. We sincerely apologize for that," said State Farm spokesman Jeff McCollum. "However, since that time we have been listening to a lot of suggestions from many retirees and working on improvements with Aon Hewitt Navigators."
State Farm announced in 2011 it would eliminate Medicare-eligible retirees from its medical coverage as a cost-cutting move.
It offered the services of Aon Hewitt Navigators to help retirees find new coverage, but the firm struggled with weeks of technical woes that left it unable to complete the enrollment process by State Farm's deadline. As a result, State Farm temporarily extended medical coverage to about half of its retirees nationwide, allowing them to remain on its group medical PPO plan.
Now retirees no longer will be eligible for coverage under the company plan after May 31. Instead, the company will pay $200 per person per month toward the cost of supplemental coverage.
Letters started going out Thursday afternoon to affected retirees, letting them know of the change and the upcoming enrollment period. That process runs from mid-March through the end of May.
People can also seek coverage through an agent, broker or directly through an insurance carrier.
State Farm has about 2,000 retirees in the Twin Cities; about 1,200 to 1,400 are still on the company's plan and will need to change their coverage.
During the past year, State Farm said it worked closely with Aon Hewitt Navigators to set expectations and monitor improvements. State Farm said it evaluated its performance during the last Medicare open enrollment period and was satisfied.
Attempts to reach a representative from Aon Hewitt Navigators were unsuccessful Friday.
Appointments with Aon Hewitt Navigators will be scheduled from mid-March to mid-May. Retirees should expect to receive information on the change from the company two to three weeks prior to their appointments.
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