UC releases Medicare health insurance option for retirees, phases out old plan

Infographic describing benefits and preventive services of US Medicare
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The UC Office of the President, or UCOP, released UC Medicare Choice, a new health care option for retirees residing in California that will have lower premiums and replace the current Health Net Seniority Plus Medicare Advantage HMO, according to UCOP spokesperson Sarah McBride.

The new plan, which will be administered by UnitedHealthcare, goes into effect next year when the Health Net plan will be phased out. It will directly affect about 8,500 retirees currently on the Health Net plan, according to McBride, but those covered by the other three Medicare plans offered through the UC will also have the option to switch to UC Medicare Choice. The enrollment period for this change will be from Oct. 31 to Nov. 26.

“The new UC Medicare Choice plan is available to retirees who met their eligibility for retiree health at the time of their retirement, are eligible for Medicare, and reside in California,” McBride said in an email. “Retirees who live outside of California have a different benefit program.”

She added that regional differences prevent UCOP from offering the same Medicare plan to out-of-state retirees.

Those currently with the Health Net plan will also have the choice to opt into any of the three other plans: UC Medicare PPO, Anthem’s UC High Option Supplement to Medicare plans or Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage, according to a press release. Those who do not update their insurance plan manually by the November deadline will be automatically enrolled in the new plan for 2020.

According to the press release, the change was motivated by findings from an evaluation team — including members from the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, the Council of UC Emeriti Associations and the Council of UC Retiree Associations, among others — that the new plan would provide more benefits to retirees while also keeping the coverage “affordable and sustainable.”

“UC Medicare Choice also offers the ability to see any provider (both in-network and out-of-network) for the same low copay, as long as the provider accepts Medicare and is willing to bill UnitedHealthcare,” McBride said in the email.

Those who are eligible for the new plan will receive a letter within the next week with more information and will have the option to attend virtual town hall meetings later this month. Current members of the Health Net plan will also receive additional information about benefits, drug lists and membership guides.

Katherine Finman is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.