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Reps educate county retirees on healthcare benefits

Butler County Education Retirees Association president Wayne Boswell (center) welcomed PEEHIP representative Ann Schmidt and United Healthcare representative Lynn Groff as special guests during the association’s regular meeting Wednesday morning as the pair discussed healthcare options for Butler County’s retirees.

Butler County Education Retirees Association president Wayne Boswell (center) welcomed PEEHIP representative Ann Schmidt and United Healthcare representative Chris Tyler as special guests during the association’s regular meeting Wednesday morning as the pair discussed healthcare options for Butler County’s retirees.

Retirees of the Butler County School System received some rather good news regarding healthcare during the regular meeting of the Butler County Education Retirees Association Tuesday morning at Dunbar Community Center.

Ann Schmidt, representative of Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (PEEHIP), and Chris Tyler, representative of United Healthcare, served as special guests during Tuesday’s meeting, and the pair highlighted upcoming changes to retirees’ healthcare plans that would take effect in the coming year.

The biggest issue of concern is an increase in the premium and the spousal surcharge that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2015.

“The board has decided to increase that and implement it all at once ending in 2016 instead of facing it over a series of years,” Schmidt said.

“That is something that is really going to affect our members, and so with that I also wanted to talk with them about a medical discount program that we can provide to those with lower incomes to try to help alleviate that increase and the hardship on them.”

The other major topic of discussion involved the changing of coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees and their covered spouses over to United Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plan, which comes with a  bevy of additional benefits that retirees will soon enjoy.

“Though retirees can expect literature in the mail that details the changes, Tyler explained a handful of the highlights to the retirees in attendance.

“One of the great parts about the United Healthcare plan is what we call Silver Sneakers,” Tyler said. “What that does is it will allow individuals to go to a participating gym and utilize the gym membership at no additional cost.  Of course, the gym has to be contracted with Healthways, the parent company of Silver Sneakers, and then they can go ahead and take part in the program.

“We also have a 24-hour nurse line where members can call and get health advice.  It’s not meant to replace 911, but then again it’s also there to give a little bit of information on things like diabetes, high blood pressure, healthier living and those sorts of things.”

In addition to spurring retirees into getting physically fit, the new Medicare Advantage plan would also provide personal care directly at one’s doorstep.

“We also offer another wonderful program called House Calls, where a nurse practitioner can come out to a retiree’s home and do a wellness check,” Tyler added. “They’ll take some blood and urine samples, go over their medications with them and if they qualify for any of our programs, we’ll refer them to any sort of disease or nurse-case management in those instances when they qualify.  Those are just a few of the things that are offered under the PEEHIP United Healthcare plan that you wouldn’t see otherwise under the current plan today.”

Though Schmidt and Tyler only discussed a handful of the coming changes, more information will be made available to retirees in a series of meetings to be held between Aug. 22 and Nov. 11.