1st Quarter 2011 Benefits Corner

by Al Horan, CRA Benefits Committee Chair

Varied Benefit costs increase, decrease

Unfortunately, however, some retirees saw substantial increases in their monthly contributions for Dental coverage, HMO coverage and Medical coverage for non-Medicare retirees. These increases resulted from inflation and increased utilization of medical/dental care. On the other hand, Medicare eligible retirees experienced reductions in their monthly contributions. These reductions, for the most part, resulted from government subsidies for drug coverage that were passed along to retirees by Chevron.

I wish to point out Chevron was not alone in seeing increases in some Medical Plan costs. Many other large employers also saw sharp increases. These were the largest increases the community saw since 2004.

More increases predicted

Some experts also are predicting high increases again in 2011. While these predictions may or may not come to pass, we should try to remember that WE, the end users, ultimately play a major role in controlling costs. You may be wondering how we influence costs. It's simple. We affect them through utilization of care and by maintaining healthy lifestyles. Here are just a few ways we can help:

  • UTILIZATION: We should strive to match the service to our need by –
  • Consulting a family physician, where feasible, before seeing a specialist.
  • Visiting a doctor's office, if possible, rather than an emergency room for non-emergency care.
  • Using generic drugs, where possible, and ordering through the mail.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • Eat healthy and watch our weight.
  • Exercise our bodies and minds.
  • Obtain proper rest.
  • Remain active by socializing, volunteering, etc.
  • Obtain regular checkups.

A change in regular checkups

Until now, only non-Medicare retirees were covered by annual checkups under Chevron's Medical Plans. But starting now in 2011, Medicare retirees also will be covered for annual checkups through Medicare. More details: refer to Chevron or Medicare literature. Or phone your Medical Plan provider or Medicare.

While on the subject of Medicare, it is my understanding that, unless the government acts to permanently reinstate the higher Medicare allowable fees, medical providers will see a rollback in their reimbursements. Since Chevron's Medical Plans for Medicare retirees use Medicare allowable charges to calculate benefits, the providers will not receive relief through Chevron's Plans. Also heard that, if the government allows the rollback, some doctors may consider retiring from practice while other doctors may consider not accepting new Medicare patients. Keep your eyes on this subject and be careful about changing doctors.

"Advanced Care Planning" booklet

In closing, I'd like to mention the Benefits Committee has completed a booklet entitled "Advanced Care Planning." It deals with such subjects as long-term care, in-home care and provides useful reference sources for information. The booklet is now online. To download, visit: http://www.chevronretirees.org/Tools-And-Resources/Advanced-Care-Planning.

Additionally, we are exploring the possibility of making available discounted Homeowners and Auto Insurance coverage. We hope to rollout these opportunities sometime in 2011. They will be made available to all dues-paying CRA members. Finally, Benefits Committee member Herb Farrington has written a detailed summary regarding "The 2010 Tax Relief Act." His article highlights certain provisions of the new law signed by President Obama as it concerns retirees and investors. His article will be available to members on the CRA website after Jan. 15. Let me know if you have questions regarding any of the foregoing.

As always, please let me know if you have questions.

Al Horan