The open enrollment period for Connecticut retired teachers who access their health insurance benefits through the Teachers’ Retirement Board (TRB) began on October 18. For the 2022 calendar year, the TRB has chosen UnitedHealthcare as the sole provider for the two insurance options being offered to retirees: the UnitedHealthcare Advantage Plan and the Senior Supplement Plan which supplements original Medicare.
During this enrollment period, UnitedHealthcare has been offering in-person and virtual information sessions throughout the state. The sessions should offer an unbiased detailed review of both insurance options. However, that has not happened. The presentations thus far have been heavily slanted toward the Advantage plan. Prior authorization, which is a strong payment control mechanism, is not mentioned at all unless people submit questions. Additionally, in the complimentary tote bag given to all participants, only Advantage plan materials have been provided. Supplement plan materials were provided only upon request to those who thought to ask.
It comes as no surprise that the Advantage plan is being heavily promoted for 2022. The higher pricing of the Supplement plan is the one element that has been emphasized repeatedly. There has not been an explanation for the cost disparity between the two plans.
Retired teachers: please educate yourselves on the protections that are inherent in the Traditional Medicare Supplement plan that are not guaranteed in the less expensive Advantage plan. Don’t allow yourselves to be seduced by price alone. While you are not being educated by UnitedHealthcare on the differences, it is critical that you research the pros and cons of both plans before making your selection. You won’t want to discover the differences when you are in the midst of a medical crisis. Ask your doctors which plan is easier to deal with and is best for you.
Kathleen R. Hennessey is a retired teacher from Middlefield.