Presentation on Change of Retiree Health Care Benefits
Representatives from State Employee Benefits and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provided information about work underway to implement a Medicare Advantage plan for Medicare eligible members on January 1, 2020. SERA members were notified of an overview of the new program to be presented on September 4, 2019. This plan will not include prescription drug, dental or vision coverage. These will stay with their current providers. More information will be sent to all affected state employees and presentations will be given at the chapters. If you get material from BCBS don’t throw it away.
The new program is called Medicare Advantage. It will cover all original Medicare part A & B benefits; the original Medicare rights and protections and the original Medicare covered services. Extra benefits offered under this plan are “Silver Sneakers”, care management services and online visits (Telehealth). New cards will be coming in the mail as much more information will be coming directly to you as the new program is implemented. MORE INFORMATION WILL BE COMING OUT DIRECLY TO YOU THROUGH INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS THAT WILL BE HELD THROUGHOUT THE STATE FOR ALL Medicare-eligible retirees to explain the Medicare Advantage Plan.
Defined Benefit Plans Doing Well
According to an article in Pensions and Investments, “participants in defined contribution plans are staying the course in saving for retirement, according to the Investment Company Institute's latest analysis of participant contribution and withdrawal activity.
In the first quarter, 0.9% of plan participants stopped contributing to their plans, down from 1.1% in the same quarter the previous year.
Participants also showed little interest in changing their asset allocations, “with 4.2% changing the allocation of their balances and 2.9% changing the allocation of their contributions, down from 5.1% and 3.5%, respectively, in the year-ago quarter.”
Michigan Achieving a Better Life Experience Investment Savings Account
LANSING, Mich. – Individuals who have a “Michigan Achieving a Better Life Experience Investment” savings account can use those funds to help with health, independence and quality-of-life expenses, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Known as MiABLE for short, the funds saved in 529(A) accounts can be used to off-set the costs associated with a disability. This may include paying for expenses related to education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management and administrative services or other eligible expenses. (Michigan Department of Treasury)
Article in the Detroit News
Nomorobo is available for landline users with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services, which are generally offered by internet and cable service providers. Check the Nomorobo website to see if your provider supports this service. The service is currently free for landline users.
Research on Shift from Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution
A new series of case studies finds that states that shifted new employees from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution or cash balance plans experienced increased costs for taxpayers, without major improvements in funding. The research also indicates that the move away from pensions cuts employees’ retirement security and that employers may face increasing challenges hiring and retaining staff to deliver public services.
The research, Enduring Challenges: Examining the Experiences of States that Closed Pension Plans, provides case studies in four states that closed their pension plans in favor of alternative plan designs: Alaska, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia. The full report can be found at www.nirsonline.org
State of Michigan Investment Board Meeting June 6, 2019