In the past few days, we became aware of three issues affecting a large number of retired NJEA members. The State of NJ Division of Pensions has acknowledged all three issues and is working to resolve them as quickly as possible. NJEA has been working over the last week to gather the information and ensure that our members’ rights are honored.
The following issues may affect members/spouse/dependents not enrolled in Medicare:
- Insurance Cards: While you may not have received your cards yet, the state has confirmed that all coverages for non-Medicare retirees enrolled in the New Jersey Educators’ Health Plan (NJEHP) will be in place by December 31, 2020, with no gaps in coverage. To learn more, please click here to learn how you can continue either to use your current insurance card or go online and download/print your new ID cards until they are mailed.
- Deductions from January 2021 pensions: We learned over the weekend that retirees who had qualified for free medical benefits in retirement are seeing a medical deduction effective January 2021. The state confirmed that there was a programming error that caused the erroneous deductions. That error has since been corrected. They have also assured NJEA/NJREA that those members that have qualified for free retirement healthcare will continue to do so. The Division of Pensions has posted on their website that “Checks will be mailed to retirees who are due refunds with delivery expected on or before February 18, 2021.” Any future updates will be posted on their website.
The following issue may affect members/spouse/dependents enrolled in Medicare:
- OptumRx sent a mailing to some Medicare retirees stating that their medications would not be covered in 2021. Approximately two thirds of those letters were sent in error. All retirees should disregard the letter they received. A new letter will be sent confirming if the drugs identified on the first letter will continue to be covered in the new year.
If the drug the retiree has been taking is no longer on the Medicare Drug List, or has been restricted in some way, OptumRx will cover a temporary supply of the drug during the first 90 days of the calendar year. This temporary supply will be for up to a 30-day supply (less if the prescription is written for fewer days). The prescription must be filled at a network pharmacy.
We know that errors like these are frustrating. We have expressed that frustration to representatives from the Division of Pensions and have insisted that these problems be resolved quickly and with no harm to our members. You worked hard during your career to earn your post-retirement health benefits and you deserve to have them provided as promised. We will continue to monitor all of these issues to ensure they are resolved and will reach out again if we discover any additional issues.
In the meantime, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2021.