Important Events and Information
SURS Health Insurance Coverage Assistance Change:
Effective September 30, 2016, the State Universities Retirement System’s (SURS) assistance with the enrollment of all member, retiree and survivor health insurance coverage will change.
The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has hired a third-party online vendor, Morneau Shepell, to assist with the administration of the State Employees Group Insurance Programs. SURS role going forward will be to communicate retiree and survivor insurance eligibility and to collect health insurance premiums from SURS pension payments. SURS will no longer assist with processing health insurance coverage changes for our members. Beginning Sept. 30, 2016, paper forms will no longer be accessible or accepted for changes through the State Universities Retirement System.
This change will impact all SURS members who are eligible for coverage through the College Insurance Program and State Employees Group Insurance Program. This also includes members enrolled in the Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL) Medicare Advantage plans.
Beginning Sept. 30, members will view and make changes to their coverage through the MyBenefits Marketplace . Members will access this website by using the ID assigned by the Department of Central Management Services. If a member does not have their ID and wishes to log in, they will be able to retrieve it through the website’s self-authentication process. Members will also have the option to call a State of Illinois Group Insurance customer service representative for further assistance or to enroll over the phone, Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CST, toll free at 1-844-251-1777 or TTY toll free at 1-844-251-1778.
Read the informational letter sent by CMS to affected members here.
TRAIL enrollment is closed for 2016.
Your Colleagues Choices
November 2014 Poll:
Frances B. – Dan and I have been satisfied with the United Healthcare Medicare Advantage PPO. Last year when I began calling to see if my providers would accept it, I got one or two indecisive answers, but since then everything has gone smoothly for us. Pat mentioned that the medicine is more expensive with UHC. Mine has been, but only if the medication is in one of the more expensive tiers. Most of mine is still in the lower (lowest?) tiers, so we haven’t noticed an increase in medication cost. I think OptumRX is easy to deal with. I wish we could have automatic re-filling of the prescriptions, but maybe that will come. We plan to stay with UHC Medicare Advantage this year and hope we continue to be satisfied with their performance.
Sharon M. – I am staying with the state supported United Health Care option. I have used it extensively this year as has my husband. We have had minimal challenges using it.
George E. – I am staying with United Healthcare for the upcoming year. So far, I have had no problems with acceptance and drug coverage seems to be as advertised.
Pat W. – In Lake County where we live, the only CMS plan available is the United Health Care Medicare Advantage PPO. Coming from HMO Illinois plan, there were many differences, primarily more out-of-pocket costs including more costly prescription co-pays, i.e. Instead of paying one month co-pay for three months of medicine, we now must pay two-months co-pays for three months of drugs. However, the premiums are a good bit lower, so all the costs seem to even out. Health Alliance HMO is now being offered in Lake County, but our doctors are not affiliated, so we will stay with UHC-MA.
Bonnie H. – I signed up for the United Health Care PPO–my only choice with the state. My experiences have been pretty positive. I’ve spent my entire $1000 out-of-pocket this year–something I hope not to have to do in the future. However, I have several more medical situations to deal with for the rest of the year and it won’t cost me a penny, except for my monthly premium. If I haven’t been certain that a provider would be covered by UHC, I’ve called in advance and always received helpful information. My rule of thumb has been if they accept medicare, UHC will pay.
Julie H. – I have company insurance through spouse.
Bruce B. – I kept the CIP plan after I wasn’t covered by Harper any more. I’ll have the big decision to make in 2016.
Diane K. – I’m doing fine with our new health plan … United Healthcare Medicare Advantage. They seem to be paying the providers in a timely manner. The OptumRx plan seems to be somewhat the same as our previous plan — a couple of drugs are lower in cost and one of my drugs is a bit higher. It seems to even itself out. My doctors in the beginning were hesitant to take on this new plan because they didn’t understand the Medicare Advantage part of the plan. They did submit the claim with no problems. I’ll be having this plan next year and, I hope, in years to come.
Jeanne P. – I’m still covered under Harper’s plan for another year or so. Then I’ll need to decide what plan comes next!
Betty H. – I expect that I will probably go with the United Healthcare PPO Medicare Advantage plan again, the only other options in the state system being Humana HMO, also a Medicare Advantage plan, or leaving the state support forever. It hasn’t been an entirely smooth year for me, but inertia carries me along, I guess. It’s far from a ringing endorsement. One of my specialists with a triple specialty (Asthma, Allergy, Immunology) has opted out of Medicare, which means that the insurance pays nothing if I stay with him or I have to find another doctor willing to take both Medicare and United Healthcare (which appears to make some doctors unhappy). I have been trying to locate a similar AAI specialist (which my rheumatologist, my E.N.T., and my pulmonologist all insist I need because of my rheumatoid arthritis) for several months, and they all seem to be over a half hour or more away from me, some in tricky places to find or park for one reason or another. Under our previous Medicare PPO supplement, once the Medicare and Cigna deductibles were fulfilled, Cigna picked up the rest. But perhaps most people won’t have as complicated medical situations as I do.
Sarah S. – I’m still covered under the Harper College plan.
Initial 2013 Poll:
Diane Martling: “I am taking the UHC PPO for my insurance choice. It is for 1 year so we have time to check out regular Medicare options.”
Frances Brantley: “Dan and I decided to go with Medicare Advantage and United Healthcare PPO. Our reasoning is that we want to be able to remain with the state plan, and that is what is being offered. If we are dissatisfied with this coverage in the ensuing year, we do have the option in the next enrollment period of returning to Medicare and using Blue Cross/Blue Shield as our supplemental insurance. We understand that Blue Cross/Blue Shield doesn’t require its new members to have any kind of medical examination before they are accepted, so the possibility of being denied and having to go the route of underwriting isn’t a threat. Of course, that could change, but it is an established policy, as I understand it. This gives us another option if we don’t like Medicare Advantage and United Healthcare PPO.”
Tanya Bergman: “At the last meeting at Harper many of us had questions about how we would know that our insurance forms were received (in time, not lost in the mail). I did send mine with the post office green card (don’t remember if that is certified, or return receipt ) but I also got an email from SUAA confirming that it was received. Thought this might be helpful for others.”
Bonnie Henry: “Yesterday, I signed up for the State United Health Care PPO plan (the only plan available to me based on where I live); my husband signed up with Blue Cross. Despite the fact that several of my colleagues and I have done lots of research attempting to get answers from CMS, UHC, doctors and hospitals, I feel I am taking a risk. We were not willing to do that for my husband because he has a serious ongoing health issue and we were worried that without definite answers–put in writing–that the chance of having to pay thousands of dollars for his care was just too great.
The fact of the matter is that we need more answers from the State–and maybe they will come, but I’ve decided the only way to know the answers for sure is to try the plan. I don’t have nearly the level of confidence that the new State plans will be as good as that provided by CIGNA. Many of the verbal answers I’ve received seem to indicate that I should be OK, but those answers can’t be found in writing. As I said, I feel that signing up for a State plan is taking a risk–real peace of mind would probably come from signing up with a medicare supplement plan. However, if we do that, we are out of State insurance forever, unless we can get legislation passed to change that and I know that won’t happen by December 13!”
Peter Gart: “I will not opt for the state sponsored plan available here in Cook County, which is Humana. I had unsatisfactory experiences years ago when they provided coverage at Harper. Though they may be better now, I am satisfied with Blue Cross Blue Shield and will purchase either supplementary insurance or an advantage plan directly through them. You get what you pay for and cost is not the only factor.”
Elizabeth Minicz: “Right now, I am leaning toward the Humana HMO. My current physician (affiliated with DuPage Medical Group) has already sent a letter saying that all of the Medicare Advantage Plans will be accepted.