Message from the Executive Director: Change on the Horizon

Message from the Executive Director: Change on the Horizon

September 8, 2020

Porter WilsonBy now you probably know that on January 1, the insurer for the HealthSelectSM Medicare Advantage Plan preferred provider organization (MA PPO) will change from Humana to UnitedHealthcare.®

Change can be stressful, especially when it comes to something as important as your health care. Many of you may be wondering, “Will my coverage change?” or “Can I see my same providers?” Some may wonder why the switch is needed.

Rest assured that your coverage will not change, and ERS, with guidance from Medicare, will continue to decide which benefits the plan covers. As long as your doctors and other providers continue to accept Medicare, you can keep seeing them. We also are working with UnitedHealthcare to provide information and support before and after the change. Please read more about the transition at  “UnitedHealthcare to become insurer for HealthSelect Medicare Advantage.”

Why this change is happening

State law requires ERS to regularly rebid its contracts for insurers and plan administrators. In late 2019, insurers submitted proposals for the HealthSelect MA PPO contract. ERS staff carefully reviewed each company’s capabilities. While cost was a primary consideration, we also looked at each bidder’s claims processing, customer service, information security and other services. ERS scored each bidder and, based on the scores, made a recommendation to the ERS Board of Trustees. The Board approved UnitedHealthcare as the new insurer at its May 20 meeting.

UnitedHealthcare’s cost to administer the plan is significantly lower, and we’re confident they can meet our high standards of quality and service. As with all our plans, we’ll have measures in place to ensure they do.

Cost savings benefit retirees

Most retirees do not have to pay for coverage. However, if you cover a dependent or have coverage as a surviving spouse, the lower cost of the coverage is a bonus for you. You’ll pay a lot less starting January 1, without any increases in other plan costs or changes in coverage. The cost savings also help ERS and the state maintain health benefits for current and future retirees.

Stay informed

Medicare-eligible retirees should look for information about the transition in the Fall Enrollment materials we will mail you next month. You can also check the ERS website (see the link under “What’s Happening Now” on the homepage). Also, pay close attention to any mail or email you might get from ERS, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. Make sure the communications include the ERS or HealthSelect name to avoid confusing them with other Humana or UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans offered to the general public. HealthSelect MA PPO is exclusive to Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) participants.

COVID-19 updates

When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, I think we all wanted change to come a little sooner. We hope you are staying safe and healthy. Remember to check ERS’ COVID-19 webpage for any updates or to learn about your health plan coverage related to COVID-19.

Because of the pandemic, we plan to do all our Fall Enrollment events on the internet this year. We love to get out and meet with our retirees, so we will definitely miss seeing you. But we’ll offer plenty of opportunities for you to safely learn and ask questions about the HealthSelect Medicare Advantage change and refresh your knowledge about the other benefits available to you.

Porter Wilson