Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Should we go the route like OPERS did and get out of Medicare altogether?

From Harry Thistlewaite, January 27, 2014
When STRS-OH retirees reach MEDICARE AGE those retirees that qualify for both Medicare part A and part B coverage will find that using STRS-OH provided insurance may be a bad financial insurance decision. This problem or unfairness appears when the premium subsidy STRS provides qualified members is questioned.  Presently a qualified member’s subsidy of $213.00 a month is used to help pay for their $308.00 AETNA Advantage insurance premium.  When both member and spouse are both qualified members they are subsidized $426.00 a month for insurance premiums.
These Medicare qualified members can in most cases buy Medicare approved Medigap plans for less money and are much better than the insurance STRS offers.  In my case to use as an example, I purchased the best Medigap plan F and a very good part D drug plan for me and my spouse for less than $ 200.00 a month.  If STRS-OH would agree to pass the $200.00 subsidy to me to use for my health insurance premiums I would realize an actual out of pocket savings of $5986.00 a year. 
The Math breakdown is simple, take the $213.00 allocated subsidy minus my monthly Medicare insurance premium of $200.00; and I would have a yearly savings of $150.00. Next I would no longer have the $403.00 a month Aetna insurance premium for an additional actual savings (403.00 x 12) of $4836.00. Combine the $150.00 and the $4836.00 for a total out of pocket savings of $5986.00 a year or $499.00 a month. 
Remember the question, how is fair or right or understandable for STRS to willingly pay these health care subsidies to the insurance companies and not the retirees that paid into the system?  During my last contact with an STRS REP I was told STRS-OH does not pass the insurance subsidies on to individual members but that money is used to further the benefit all STRS members.  Not only did I pay into STRS for 38 years as well as thousands of other Ohio retired teachers but so did our Boards of Education. 
There are many retired Ohio teachers that believe that we are NOT being represented FAIRLY in this matter and would like to start a grass-roots program to initiate a class action suit against STRS to force STRS to pay retired teachers the money they contributed into STRS for their health insurance during their teaching years so that they are able to choose the best health insurance for them and their families. 
To raise the question one more time: How is it that STRS is willing to pay (our money) as a  subsidy to the health insurance industry but not to individual members who contributed the money in the first place? 
James Ramunno 38 years Youngstown City Schools.
Harry Thistlewaite 28 years Youngstown City Schools
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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