Monday, November 03, 2008

Funny Stuff with LLNS Benefits for Retired Folks


Hi Frank,

I can't believe this has not already been noticed but, I don't see it in the blog. I got this off of the LLNS blog, obviously.... Could this also be done here????? If so this is huge.



LLNS is keeping us in the dark as much as possible on health care options and costs. My wife and I are both Medicare-eligible, so we received the Medicare-eligible packet on October 28. I don’t know what options employees are getting, or the under-65 retirees. I talked to an employee friend, and he said the packet he received did not contain very much information.


Our packet said that all Medicare-eligible retirees are being dumped from the group health insurance plans effective next January 1. LLNS is moving to a defined contribution health plan instead of a defined benefit group plan for us Medicare retirees. What LLNS will provide us is a family Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), into which they will contribute $2400 in 2009 for each Medicare insured person (usually self or self plus spouse). We are responsible for purchasing individual Medicare supplement insurance or a Medicare Advantage plan, and Medicare pharmaceutical insurance, from an administrative management company “Extend Health” which LLNS has an arrangement with. We pay the premiums and get reimbursed from our HRA to the extent that the funds are sufficient. If anything remains, we can use that for other health care expenses (deductibles, copays etc.).


The biggest message in the packet is that Medicare retirees MUST contact Extend Health to select and enroll in a medical plan. If you do not make a plan selection with Extend Health your coverage will terminate effective January 1, 2009. (That is a direct quote from the booklet.) If a retiree is away from home, visiting relatives or on a tour, someone should get the message to them.


There is an exception for retirees in Kaiser. They can stay in the Kaiser group plan until sometime in mid-2009 when Extend Health is anticipated to have made an arrangement with Kaiser to be able to broker individual Medicare plans provided by Kaiser.


Other items from the packet – dental insurance stays under Hewitt. Retirees can participate in the Vision plan – VSP Access Plan. This is a discount program, not an insurance.


The information packet contains no information about the individual Medicare plans or their costs. Having to purchase an individual plan instead of being in a group plan, I strongly doubt that we will come out ahead.


The LLNS booklet says that we will receive a packet from Extend Health during the week of November 3.


The LLNS booklet tells us that Extend Health has a web site. They don’t say what the web site is, but we can look it up.


I found, first, that Extend Health is a recent startup. They raised $15 million in a second round of venture capital funding in August 2007. See Extend Health raises $15M for defined contribution health plans, or just go to and search their site for “Extend Health”.


The Extend Health web site is


Take a look at their Business pages, where they tell their prospective business customers that they can control current health costs and reduce corporate health liabilities and reporting obligations.


Extend Health is a combination of an administrative management company and an insurance agency.


You can look at the individual plans they have on offer. I found a few early facts. Medicare plans cover individuals. You select a plan for you and your spouse separately. The premium depends on where you live and increases with your age. It will take me a long time to go through the plans to find one which is similar to the group coverage I have this year, so I can compare cost.


Posted by Frank Young at 9:15 AM



One source of inequity is the following.
Practically all these retirees retired 
from LLNL while LLNL was managed by UC.

In effect, they are really UC's retirees; not LLNS's retirees. Why should someone who spent his/her career as a UC employee, and retired from UC before the contract change; be considered any differently than someone who retired from one of the UC campuses?

These are employees that spent their career working for UC; not LLNS. Why can UC hand off their retiree medical benefits to LLNS?

Yes - retiree medical benefits are a gift - and one isn't entitled to them in the same way a working employee is. However, there does seem to be an element of discrimination here - if one retires from a UC campus; UC takes care of your retiree medical. But retired UC employees that worked for LLNL and not a campus don't get the same generosity from UC; they get the generosity of UC's successsor, LLNS.



People have been warning on this blog for some time that LANS would eventually resort to cutting back on retiree medical benefits. Many people did not want to believe it and continued to trust tbe word of LANS. 

Well, that day has come for LLNL and will soon be coming for LANL. LANS wants to save money and earn their "for-profit" fees from NNSA. They don't care about a bunch of old retirees who didn't work for LANS/Bechtel, but worked instead for UC. Who's UC? They don't seem to exist around these parts any longer. 

The plan is to squeeze the current and former employees and gradually back away from the "substantially equivalent" BS that DOE fed to the employees back in 2005. If they can get people to leave LANL in disgust and reduce the size of the work force, so much the better as far as LANS and NNSA are concerned.



If DOE funds the retiree medical; then that's even less reason for cutting their benefits to save cost. If the DOE is paying for retiree medical; then that money should be paid for retiree medical and not used to shore up some other LANS / LLNS shortfall.




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