Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nortel US retiree medical benefits

I received the letter from Nortel yesterday telling me that their US retiree medical benefits will cease on August 31st 2010. I guess they are within their rights to take such an action since the medical plan does state that they can change or cancel it.

So here we have it, with about 80 days notice.

They say that United Healthcare will be contacting us and carrying out webinars, phone calls and meetings. I guess United Healthcare sees this as a big opportunity to get a bunch of new clients.

The only plus is that U.H. won't require us to have medical exams and will accept people even with prior illness conditions.

The downside is that their premiums will not be subsidized by Nortel so we can expect big increases in what we have to pay.

In my case I will be considering a Medicare Advantage Program since that will give me coverage of drugs as well as doctors and hospital services. I am not sure how the costs compare yet, but I imagine it will be more than I currently pay.

For my wife, it means she loses her coverage since she is not yet eligible for Medicare. We have a few years to cover before that becomes available to her.

I'm sure we are going to have to pay big premiums to cover her medical and drugs.

We can only wait and see.

This means that we now will have to think about another set of claims on Nortel US. Since they were supposed to cover our medical, drugs, long term care, and some Life Insurance, all that goes away. Calculating those claims is going to be difficult.

Since the US-NRPC is no longer operational we are on our own for working that out. I hope to be able to get some advice from some of my ex-colleagues and will share that with my readers as I find out more. Of course I don't want to lead you astray so I will have to caution you that any advice I give should be checked with your own legal advisers and accountants.

This certainly has been a tough couple of years. I stand to lose the majority of the pension I thought was going to be there for my lifetime, and now I have to pay more to cover medical costs at a time of life when these things are becoming more important. These certainly aren't the golden years I expected. More like the rust-bucket years.

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