Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reshaping Retirement Policies

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reshaping Retirement Policies

Article excerpt

With rising costs in health care and the changing needs of an older population that is living longer and saving less, Oklahoma companies are taking a closer look at their retirement packages. To remain competitive, many firms seek benefits that will meet the needs of their retirees and, at the same time, alleviate the growing costs of medical coverage.

Two new trends in retirement benefits that hold some promise of meeting both those goals, according to Phil Sloan, vice president for senior markets/Blue Cross Blue Shield, are managed care for retirees and insurance policies for long-term care. Both are gaining popularity among area employers.

"We introduced our Medicare managed-care product called BlueLincs Senior to retirees covered by Medicare in November last year, and have experienced substantial growth since then," Sloan says. Currently they have about 2,000 enrollees in that health maintenance organization, which provides Medicare and additional benefits to their customers. Medicare-risk HMOs hit the market a couple of years ago, catching the attention of Congress as a way to cut billions from the Medicare budget and of employers interested in managed care for their retirees, both over and under age 65. A Medicare HMO is a program in which the member agrees to allow the HMO to administer Medicare benefits for them in a managed-care environment. In turn, the federal government pays the HMO to administer the Medicare program for them. This product is expected to grow in popularity. Lucent Technologies will be offering an HMO option for its retirees in the near future, according to Ed Beltram, manager of human resources for the manufacturing giant. To ensure retired workers understand the new option fully, the company invited a group from their retired work force to receive training and then travel around the country explaining the new insurance policy to all other retirees within the company, he explains. …

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