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IBM Retiree Benefits Seminar

There remain hundreds, if not thousands, of IBM retirees and their spouses in our area.
There remain hundreds, if not thousands, of IBM retirees and their spouses in our area.

And now those retirees are having to grapple with a new method of receiving their health insurance from the company. Action for Older Persons held a seminar today to explain some of the general options facing them. Rather than offer supplemental insurance plans directly, IBM is giving retired employees a lump sum payment annually in a Health Reimbursement Arrangement or HRA. The former workers must then choose a plan from IBM's selected provider, Extend Health.

Those who retired before 1992 get $3,500 a year to cover premiums, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses. Retirees after 1992 receive $3,000. Although there's variance among the different options, the HRA generally will cover expenses of the cheapest policy for the retiree alone. However, there's less money for spouses and surviving widows, meaning their costs will likely go up.

Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program Coordinator Casondra Hamilton says she's concerned that the telephone counselors at Extend Health may not be fully prepared to explain the options.

"It's new to the IBM retirees. And to have people on the phone that can't answer a question when I'm asking it, I'm really unsure of how well they're going to do with people who don't know the terms," said Hamilton.

Action for Older Persons will hold 2 more information sessions, but slots are going fast. They will be on October 22nd at 9 a.m. and November 4th at 1 p.m. To register, call AOP at (607) 722-1251.
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