NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter

TVA Survey Narrative

The following information is a narrative of the results of a survey of NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter members to gain their input related to their experiences with OneExchange (now Via Benefits) to acquire Medigap coverage after TVA terminated its healthcare plan for retirees in 2016.

The NRLN has shared the survey narrative with members of Congress and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Washington, D.C. in an effort to gain a Special Enrollment Period for retirees who where given inaccurate and misleading information on the availability and cost of Medigap plans.

If you are a TVA retiree who purchased your Medigap plan from OneExchange and would like to add your input to the survey, send your name and email address to nrlnmessage@msn.com. If enough are interested, we will reopen the survey and send you the link to the survey.

The report is a narrative of the results of a survey of NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter Members.

You may have read the June 9 NRLN President Bill Kadereit Forum message that announce the completion a new NRLN whitepaper on Medicare Advantage (MA). To access the whitepaper, click on the Legislative Agenda tab on the NRLN home page, select whitepapers and scroll down to MEDICARE ADVANTAGE QUALITY BONUS PLAN IS A HOUSE OF CARDS.

The NRLN’s primary concern has always been for its members and all seniors who see the TV commercials about MA plans and good deals that are “FREE.” Implying that Medicare Part A & B premiums and benefits are free is misleading since whether you stay with original Medicare Part A & B or buy a private MA plan to get A & B benefits we get all Part A benefits as we have prepaid the 1.45% premium tax on wages over our lifetime and we all must pay the Medicare Part B premium of $145.60 a month. Nothing free here!

Regrettably, our income tax dollars subsidize private MA insurance companies with bonuses and rebates that fund reduced deductibles, copays, costs in excess of out-of-pocket maximums and may pay for drug, dental and vision plans and for Silver Sneakers memberships. These rebates amount to $126 a month for every MA plan enrollee. In 2020, cost sharing and chronic benefit costs will be $35 billion and MA plan cost per enrollee will be higher than in original Medicare!

The 44 million in original Medicare and all others paying income taxes also pay for MA plan new “chronic” benefits for the 26 million MA enrollees that are denied to the other 44 million original Medicare beneficiaries. The NRLN is advocating this is unfair, discriminatory. All Medicare enrollees should be eligible for approved original Medicare plan benefits.

The NRLN fully supports competition from private healthcare plans and understands the financial challenges ahead for Medicare and the federal budget. However, the NRLN lobbies against legislated subsidies and restrictions placed on original Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) just to preserve the notion that private insurance plans are more effective. Sooner or later these subsidies will dry up, causing insurers to abandon MA plans. The NRLN’s proposal includes “grandfathering” protection for those in MA HMO plans should this happen.

When talking with Bill, I told him about the research I had been doing into the way premiums are often increased for Medigap, which are original Medicare supplement plans intended to pay the 20 percent that Medicare does not pay for Medicare Part A and Part B. My concern is that a Medigap policy begins with a stated premium but the premium can be raised at any time. This often happens with months after the Medigap policy is issued. I know a number of TVA members have experienced this.

I want to let you know that Bill requested that I continue my research and develop a proposal for the NRLN Board’s consideration to take a position on this issue.

If you have a Medigap plan and experienced premium increases within a few months of acquiring your plan, I would like to hear from you. Let me know the provider of your Medigap plan, when you began paying the premium and how soon the premium was increased.

Dan Pitts, President
NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter
Email: danpitts99@gmail.com