Off-Island Retirees at Risk of Losing Supplemental Coverage

Some 530 retirees residing in mainland states are in danger of losing their supplemental insurance coverage, Division of Personnel Director Kenneth Hermon said Tuesday.

This lapse in coverage, a by-product of the Virgin Islands government’s transition from Cigna to United Healthcare as it main provider of supplemental insurance, is similar to that which recently threatened some 189 retirees over the age of 65 living in the territory who did not enroll under Medicare Part B.

According to Hermon, some 530 retirees over the age of 65, currently registered as residents in mainland states, are also in danger of losing their supplemental coverage by Oct. 31. The Division of Personnel was notified by United Healthcare of the issue on Oct. 15.

“Unlike in the Virgin Islands, we could not auto-enroll them into Plan N due to federal guidelines and state statutes,” said Hermon. “The Division of Personnel has been in a quandary trying to figure it out and reach out to that population.”

United Healthcare, Hermon said, has exhausted all of its resources in contacting retirees in this population. The Division of Personnel, he said, has been working with the Government Employees Retirement System in acquiring some contact information, including last known addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

“We have been insisting and urging them to call United Healthcare so that they can make a selection and opt either into Plan N and Plan F,” Hermon said.

According to Hermon, it is extremely important that the 530 retirees in the mainland contact United Healthcare by the end of October, and the fact that many of the notices sent out to retirees using addresses on file were returned to sender is causing concern for the division.

“If the retirees fail to do select a plan by the end of this month, then the health insurance board now has another issue as to what is going to happen,” he said, adding that in such case, the health insurance board will then have to either create a separate interim solution for members of this population or simply tell them that they are no longer covered under the V.I. government’s supplemental insurance.

Mainland retirees who fail to select a plan will have to make do with Medicare Part A coverage and, if they are also enrolled in it, Medicare Part B. According to Hermon, this option is not beneficial as it leaves a “doughnut hole” for retirees to cover out of pocket, such prescription drug expenses that the government’s supplemental plan alleviates.

Hermon emphasized that the transitional supplemental insurance plan recently announced by the health insurance board applies specifically to the group of 189 post-65 retirees currently living in the Virgin Islands, not for the 530 living in the mainland.

On Oct. 18, the Personnel Division asked the GESC for permission to post a list of names of mainland retirees on the Personnel Division website, as well as other media, to speed up the process of tracking and notification. As of Oct. 22, the GESC has not yet responded to the request.

Hermon encourages retirees residing in the mainland to contact United Healthcare before Oct. 31 at 866-633-2446 to select a new supplemental insurance coverage plan.

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