• Triton College Annuitants Association

    Health Issues & Insurance

    TRAIL Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment 

    The Open Enrollment period for the 2017 plan year will be October 14 - November 15, 2016.  Informational seminars will be held statewide to give eligible retirees and survivors an opportunity to learn about the Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL) Program.  Topics will include eligibility criteria and an explanation of the benefits provided through the Program. The seminars will continue through Oct. 27. A list of Chicago area seminars is shown below. Representatives from the Department of Central Management Services (CMS), the Medicare Advantage plans, and Silver Sneakers will be present to answer your questions.

    Eligibility Criteria  

    In order to be eligible for the Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL) Program, retirees and survivors of the State, CIP and TRIP group insurance programs must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. In addition, any covered dependent must also be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B in order to be eligible for TRAIL coverage. If either the member or any dependent on the member’s insurance through the State is not enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, then all are ineligible for TRAIL Medicare Advantage plans. Members and dependents of non-Medicare households must seek benefits under the non-Medicare programs offered by the State.

    If you are over 65 and on Medicare, newly eligible members will be required to enroll online during the 2017 TRAIL Open Enrollment period, which runs Oct. 14 - Nov. 15, 2016. If you are currently enrolled in TRAIL, and would like to make a change, you must do so online to change your elections, The web site is: www.MyBenefits.Illinois.gov

    If you are currently enrolled in TRAIL, and want to continue with no changes, you don't have to do anything.



    The 2017 premiums for the TRAIL Medicare Advantage plans are indicated below:

    CIP Medicare Advantage Plan Monthly Rates for 2017
    Effective Jan. 1, 2017

       HMO Plans          
     UnitedHealthcare PPO
     Member Rates
     $46.85 $62.68
     Dependent Rates
     $187.39  $250.71

    The State of Illinois offers annuitants and survivors under the College Insurance Program (CIP) a healthcare program called Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL). This program provides eligible members and their covered dependents comprehensive medical and prescription drug coverage through Medicare Advantage plans (commonly referred to as “MAPD” plans). The CIP program also includes vision coverage through EyeMed, and dental coverage through Delta Dental.

    All Illinois counties have an HMO and PPO option. Annuitants and survivors residing outside Illinois may elect the PPO option available nationwide. If you are over sixty-five and have Medicare and choose the Medicare Advantage program the State of Illinois is offering, please remember that you no longer will use the Federal government's Medicare card, but instead use the one from the Medicare Advantage program being offered by the State. You will still pay the Medicare premium each month to the federal government. 


    State Switching to Electronic Insurance forms via Third-Party Vendor Website.

    Effective September 30, 2016, SURS assistance with the enrollment of all member, retiree and survivor health insurance coverage will change. 

    The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has hired a third-party online vendor, Morneau Shepell, to assist with the administration of the State Employees Group Insurance Programs. SURS role going forward will be to communicate retiree and survivor insurance eligibility and to collect health insurance premiums from SURS pension payments. SURS will no longer assist with processing health insurance coverage changes for our members. Beginning Sept. 30, 2016, paper forms will no longer be accessible or accepted for changes through the State Universities Retirement System.

    This change will impact all SURS members who are eligible for coverage through the College Insurance Program and State Employees Group Insurance Program. This also includes members enrolled in the Total Retiree Advantage Illinois (TRAIL) Medicare Advantage plans.

    For more information, click here.

    Medicare Open enrollment dates: 

    Oct. 15 - Dec. 7, 2016. Annual election period. If eligible, you may enroll in Medicare health benefits, advantage programs, or Medigap plan with Prescription Drug coverage, or you can enroll in a stand-alone drug plan.

    Jan. 1 - Feb. 14, 2017. Annual disenrollment period. If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can return to original Medicare and can enroll in a stand-alone drug plan. You will no longer be able to switch Medicare Advantage carriers at this time.

    Feb. 15 - Oct. 14, 2017. You are not allowed to make changes to your Medicare plan unless special circumstances arise (e.g. you move, you qualify or lose eligibility for Medicaid.)

    Medicare Rates 2017.

    Click this link to get a detailed explanation of Medicare rates and deductibles for 2017

    Note that how much you pay for Medicare will be different depending whether you have your Medicare premium deducted from your Soc Sec check or whether you pay your premium directly to Medicare. Clicking the link above will take you to an article that explains this in detail.

    College Insurance Program (CIP) 

    May 01 through June 01 is the Benefits Choice/Open enrollment period for CIP program.
    If you are an eligible benefit recipient who does not currently participate in the plan, the Open Enrollment Period gives you an opportunity to sign up for health, dental and vision coverage through the plan. Coverage could be provided to you and any eligible dependents at the current premium rates.
    The Open Enrollment Period lasts from May 1 through June 1, and is the only opportunity eligible members have to enroll in this plan without meeting certain limited criteria. If you choose to participate in this plan, coverage will become effective July 1 and premiums will be deducted from your July benefit payment.

    For more information on the current rates; who the participating insurance companies are; or enrollment; visit www.benefitschoice.il.gov. You can review the benefits Choice Options Book and College Insurance Plan Handbook


    Click the link below to read the article about transitioning to Medicare, for those approaching 65.

     Medicare Article - Part 1 by Ken Piwower  Transitioning to Medicare: Part 1 - Medicare Sign-Up and Basics by Ken Piwower
     Transitioning to Medicare: Part 2 - Supplemental Plans by Ken Piwower  Transitioning to Medicare: Part 2 - Supplemental Plans by Ken Piwower


    Click this link for more info on the State's Medicare Advantage Plan, called TRAIL

    Click here for the link to the SUAA blog on the State's Medicare Advantage Program.

    Eleonore Weber
    Message from Eleonore Weber, Insurance Broker

    April 2016

    Dear TCAA Members:

    Recently, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Linda Brookhart, Executive Director of the State Universities Annuitants Association.  We discussed the current College Insurance Program (CIP) Healthcare plan as well any anticipated changes going forward in 2016. Unfortunately, any changes requiring benefits and related costs for 2016 are still pending within the state.  The negotiated health insurance benefits are through AFSCME.  Their current contract ends on June 30, 2015. 

    Nonetheless, it is vital to understand the current facts pertaining to the subjects of Healthcare, related Benefits & Costs, Medicare and Long-Term Care options for TCAA members. Below briefly outlines these areas:

    CIP members Healthcare options fit into (3) three different categories:

    1. Members who are Medicare eligible at age 65 (those who have earned  40 quarter credits by 65)

    Enroll for your Medicare benefits within the allocated period of your 65th birthday, the CIP then is considered your supplement until end of the current calendar year.

    Open Enrollment for the following year commences October 7th to November 7th for an effective date for coverage on January 1st. Members have the option to select to enroll for the CIP Medicare Advantage program or a traditional Medicare supplement or another Medicare Advantage program.

    Currently, the law does not allow for re-entry into a CIP Health Insurance program after program exit.  However, there is a pending Senate Bill #1583 to change this law, it is currently in “placed on 3rd order reading” in the Senate but it then requires approval in the House.  Third reading in the Senate suggests that it will pass the Senate.  However, passing the House could be a hurdle since last year the bill was shelled - stripped of its content.

    2. Members considered “Non”  Medicare eligible for SS benefits (less than 40 quarter credits)

    Members have the same health coverage as state employees but must pay for the premium cost.

    Individuals missing full quarter credits can still earn credit during working years.

    3. Retired but not age 65

    These members have the same health coverage has state employees but must pay for the premium cost.

    Elect for an independent individual healthcare coverage.

    Healthcare Benefits and Costs:  

    My conversation with Linda indicates no decision to date however; the current movement is shifting healthcare benefits from a “Golden Cadillac” plan coverage which is the current CIP plan, to a “Bronze” designed plan. Therefore, one might suggest this means that members can anticipate greater exposure to “Co-Pays” and “Deductibles” as well as participating in higher premium shared costs.

    Overall, Linda mentioned that the “most healthy members are happy with the current CIP Medicare Advantage program, but not necessarily those who are sick”. She does not anticipate disclosure for new benefits and the related costs until well beyond May 31, 2015 perhaps into the fall season.   Due to how the law is written, Medicare Advantage might as to stay as is.  A watchful eye will be kept as the legislative session progresses.

    Medicare Supplement Options:

    As a CIP member, you may have several healthcare plan options depending on whether fully vested with full quarter credits with Social Security. See previous mentioned guideline. The CIP option is similar to Medicare’s Part C or referred to Medicare Advantage (MA); essentially, a MA plan can have comparable components of a HMO or PPO design, which is defined by a set network of providers, co-pays and deductibles.  Below is a basic definition of Medicare terms:

    Note:  co-pays and deductible may apply based selected healthcare plan

    Part A – Hospital and Inpatient care  

    Skilled Care – 20 to 100 days max dependable healthcare plan

    Part B – Doctor and Outpatient care

    Monthly premium of $147 in 2015

    Part C – Medicare Advantage – Combination of Part A, B and D – depending on the plan

    Part D – Prescription Plan

    Member fee for discounted Rx costs

    Call me for assistance in understanding your healthcare options,  how they fits with your health needs, especially turning 65 or determining switching from a CIP plan. Remember, the CIP current plan DOES NOT allow for a switch back to a CIP option, once electing a change.

    Medicare Supplement plan options and costs are very competitive – call today for pricing.

    Long-Term Care Insurance:

    What is LTC – Long-Term Care? It is the need for help with the most basic activities of daily living such as eating, bathing or just getting ready for your day. There are myths regarding LTC, and it best to understand how it works before a sudden event or a crisis.

    Myth # 1 “The government will take care of me”

    Medicare is for 65 and older and is not intended for debilitating disorders that result in the need to for true long-term care beyond 100 days.

    Medicaid care takes away choice.

    Medicaid does provide long-term care benefits, but you may have to spend down your savings and assets for eligibility.

    What happens to the remaining spouse

    Legacy for loved ones?

    Myth #2  “I’m already covered”

    LTC is not covered by employer’s Medical or Disability Insurance or CIP

    Medical insurance is designed for acute medical condition that you will recover – broken leg, pneumonia.

    Disability insurance is meant to replace the income you lose when cannot work due to illness or accident, without anything extra to pay for care needs and typically ends by age 65 or 67.

    Myth #3 “My children will take care of me”

    Here you do not have to worry about a cost, nor do you.

    Family network –spend over the world.

    Dual working parents-who gives up their job and income?

    What about the grandchildren care?

    Myth #4 LTC Insurance is too expensive.

    It can be designed to fit a budget; choose           



    Combination -> Insured & Self-funding

    Call me to discuss all the various LTC options (traditional and non-traditional) available in the market place, discount are available too.

    In closing, I must stress the importance for TCAA members to aggressively understand and be vigilant about any possible changes to your existing healthcare plan; what are the financial ramifications when there is a plan shifts from a Gold Cadillac plan to Bronze?  Therefore, be aware of the possible healthcare changes in the coming months, and how the fluctuations affect your future healthcare needs and income.

    Thank you for the time and consideration. Be mindful to develop a plan and reap the benefits.

    Best wishes,

    Eleonore Weber,

      Your Life Security.

    Licensed Insurance Broker - Disability, Health, Life and Long-Term Care Insurance
    Mobile (312) 952-1706
    Web site: www.yourlifesecurity.com
    Email: eleonore.weber@yourlifesecurity.com