Retiree Benefits

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Highmark has informed Penn State that per The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines, Freedom Blue PPO Medicare Advantage plan participants are now required to personally inform the health plan of any demographic changes (address and/or phone number).

As of August 1, 2021, all Freedom Blue plan participants will be required to notify the University, as well as Highmark, of any address or phone number changes to ensure important plan communications are received, as the University will no longer be able to transmit this information electronically to Highmark due to the CMS guidelines.

Failure to notify both Penn State and Highmark could result in your mail being delayed or delivered to the incorrect address.

Highmark: 866-918-5285

Penn State HR Services: 814-865-1473

Retiree Resources

Becoming Medicare Eligible Resources Freedom Blue Resources
Freedom Blue Informational Packet Freedom Blue Website
Freedom Blue Application 2021 Highmark Freedom Blue Network Sharing

2021 Freedom Blue Summary of Benefits

2021 Freedom Blue Annual Notice of Change

Highmark Freedom Blue for Non-Member 1-866-456-7739
Reference Code: 21FB178428
Highmark Freedom Blue 1-866-918-5285
Freedom Blue members are not required to use Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp for lab services.

Freedom Blue Formulary

Non-Medicare Eligible Summary of Benefits

2021 PPO Plan Overview of Coverage Grid

2021 PPO Savings Plan Overview of Coverage Grid
Aetna Concierge 1-855-878-4197 2021 Preventive Prescription List
Resources for All Retirees
University Health Services Pharmacy Retiree Billing Lifetime Benefit Solutions Website
Express Scripts by Mail
2021 Rates Retiree Summary Plan Document
Dental & Vision Options for Retirees with PARSE EyeMed 2021 Retiree Vision Discount Program

2021 Retiree Plan Information

Below are electronic copies of the letters that will be mailed to retiree homes the week of October 26, 2020. 

Becoming Medicare Eligible

Upon becoming eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, your medical coverage is required to change to the University-sponsored Medicare Advantage plan, Freedom Blue PPO offered through Highmark. 

In order to enroll in the Penn State Medicare Advantage plan, individuals must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. If you have not yet received information regarding Medicare Parts A and B, please contact your local Social Security Office as soon as possible. 

The Freedom Blue application MUST be received in the Penn State Employee Benefits office PRIOR to your 65th birthday with a copy of your Medicare card. If the Freedom Blue application is not received PRIOR to your 65th birthday, your Freedom Blue effective date will be the first of the month following receipt. Failure to enroll in a timely manner could result in a cancellation of retiree benefits.

Freedom Blue PPO will become your primary coverage for medical and prescription services. Do NOT enroll in a separate Medicare Part D program for prescription drugs. Freedom Blue PPO includes coverage for Part D prescription drugs. 

Please contact Freedom Blue PPO at 1-866-456-7739, please have Reference Code: 21FB178428 ready when you call with any questions or concerns regarding the plan.

Becoming Medicare Eligible Due to Disability

If a retiree becomes Medicare eligible due to disability, and has not yet turned 65; Part A will pay as primary for hospital services and Aetna will pay as primary for Part B expenses. 

Medicare-eligible retirees due to disability will have the option of remaining in Part A and continuing on the non-65 retiree plan until they reach age 65. Retirees will want to consult with Social Security/Medicare regarding any late entrant penalties that may apply if you need to enroll in Medicare Part B prior to your 65th birthday but AFTER initially becoming Medicare eligible.

If retirees are enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B upon becoming Medicare eligible due to disability, they will be required to move to our Medicare Advantage plan.

Split Plans – Retiree with Medicare and Non-Medicare Members Enrolled

Once a retiree and/or spouse becomes Medicare eligible and the remaining spouse is under 65, your benefits then become a “split plan” retirement medical plan.  

The newly Medicare eligible retiree or spouse will be transitioned to the University-sponsored Medicare Advantage plan Freedom Blue with Highmark. The Freedom Blue Member will receive a new ID card from Highmark.

The remaining dependents will stay with Aetna and new ID cards will be issued as follows:

  1. Penn State retiree moves to Highmark with non-Medicare spouse
    • Spouse will remain with Aetna and become the primary subscriber under Aetna insurance.
    • Covered dependent children under the age of 26 will become dependents listed under the new primary subscriber.
    • A new ID card with new Member ID will be sent after the effective date.*
  2. Penn State retiree moves to Highmark with non-Medicare child/ren (no spouse coverage)
    • Dependent child/ren remain with Aetna and the oldest covered child under the age of 26 becomes the primary subscriber under Aetna insurance.
    • Any younger sibling(s) will be listed as dependent(s) under the oldest child.
    • A new ID card with new Member ID will be sent after the effective date.*
  3. Penn State retiree remains on Aetna with Medicare-eligible spouse
    • Retiree will receive a new ID card based on the tier change, but the Member ID will remain the same.

*Should you need to call the vendor to inquire about benefits, members should provide the new primary subscriber’s information such as SSN and date of birth.

Changes will be electronically sent to the insurance vendors and to the retiree billing vendor. It is recommended you pay your quarterly bill as invoiced and the appropriate credits will follow once the retiree billing vendor receives the changes.

Retiree Billing Process

We have contracted with Lifetime Benefit Solutions to administer, bill, and collect the health care premiums from all of our retirees who have the Penn State medical benefit.

For new retirees, after your retirement has been processed electronically in Workday, your retiree medical billing information will automatically be sent to Lifetime Benefit Solutions.

Your first Retiree Bill should come approximately two to three weeks AFTER your retirement. Payment is due within 60 days of receipt of your first Retiree Bill.

Retirees have the option to set up a monthly automatic withdrawal from a designated bank to pay for your retiree billing premiums.  The information to establish the automated payments will be included in your first retiree bill.  

If you do not set up automatic payment, you will be billed on a quarterly basis. Your premium payments are due on the 1st day of each calendar quarter and you will have a 60 day grace period. Premium due dates are: January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1; your 60 day grace period will begin on the date after the payment due date. Please call Lifetime Benefit Solutions to discuss all of your payment options.

NOTE: You will receive a COBRA Notification extending coverage for medical, dental and vision; this notice is required by law, even if you are eligible for retiree medical coverage. If you are retiring with Penn State Retiree Medical, you should decline the offer for extended medical coverage. Failure to complete the COBRA Enrollment within 60 days is considered an automatic decline of the coverages offered.

Important Notes for Retiree Billing Process

  • Automatic withdrawal (ACH) forms need to be completed with Lifetime Benefit Solutions.
  • ACH withdrawals taken monthly.
  • Penn State ID’s can be used instead of SSN for Member Portal and ACH

For more information, call Lifetime Benefit Solutions (800) 828-0078.

* New 05/20/2020 * Lifetime Benefit Solutions has implemented a new member mobile app for ease of managing your account. The app is accessible through the App Store for iOS devices and through Google Play for Android devices. Lifetime Benefit Solutions will be sending out information to members via email for those with an email on file. For your convenience, feel free to review the information from Lifetime Benefit Solutions on the COBRA & Premium Billing Member Mobile App flyer. For any questions related to the new member mobile app, please contact Lifetime Benefit Solutions directly at 800-828-0078.

Retiree Request for Change Form

If you wish to refuse medical coverage, you must complete the Retiree Request for Change Form. Retirees who refuse coverage will not be able to re-enroll at a later date.

Retiree dependent coverage can be added ONLY if the eligible dependent experiences an IRS qualifying life event change. Changes must be requested within 31 days of the event by completing a Retiree Request for Change form. You can also contact Penn State HR Services at 814-865-1473 to request a copy be mailed to you. The following are examples of IRS-defined life event changes when you are able to add an eligible dependent:

  • Employee's legal marital status changes, due to marriage, divorce, legal separation, or the death of a spouse;
  • Changes in employment status of a spouse, which can include the ending of their employment, new or different working hours resulting in a change of their employer-sponsored benefits

If your eligible dependent loses coverage and needs to enroll in the Penn State Retiree Medical Benefits as your dependent, please complete the Retiree Request for Change Form. If your dependent is also Medicare eligible, they will also need to complete a Freedom Blue application and provide a copy of their Medicare card outlining the Part A and Part B effective dates.

If you have a dependent child turning age 26, you may be eligible to continue the dependent child coverage if that dependent is physically or intellectually handicapped, so as to be incapable of earning a living when coverage would normally terminate due to age. In order to receive the needed information regarding coverage for a dependent child over the age of 26, you will need to contact HR Services, 814-865-1473, to initiate a request on the process. Once you initiate the request, Penn State Employee Benefits will be in touch with further information.

After a dependent child is no longer eligible under your retiree plan, they will receive information from Lifetime Benefit Solutions regarding continuation of benefits under COBRA.

Retiree Vision Discount Program

Retirees can take advantage of a FREE vision discount program available through EyeMed.

    Retiree ID Card

    In accordance with HR102, all retirees will be required to surrender their active Faculty/Staff id+ card to their department supervisor. Retirees who meet the years of service requirement are eligible to obtain a new Retiree id+ card after their official retirement date. For more information, please visit Penn State id+ website.

    Educational Privileges

    Educational privileges are available to full-time faculty, staff, technical service employees, retirees, and those with Emeritus status, their spouse, and dependent children up to the age of 26. The grant-in-aid benefit is a 75% discount on the tuition charge and applies to World Campus, Penn State resident instruction at all campuses, and Pennsylvania College of Technology. More Tuition Discount information is available regarding how the discount will be applied. Please see University policies HR36 and HR37 for additional information. Tuition discount will be be approved retro-actively to prior semesters.

    If you have not already completed the dependent verification program within Workday, you will be required to do so in order to maintain the dependent tuition discount. For more details about the dependent verification program please refer to Eligibility and Dependent Information. Dependents who do not successfully complete the verification will have the tuition discount removed from their accounts and will be responsible for the entire tuition amount.

    Exclusions

    Educational privileges DO NOT apply to courses offered through:

    • The College of Medicine, Medical School Program and Physician's Assistant Program, at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
    • The Smeal College of Business Administration Executive MBA Program
    • The Dickinson School of Law and Penn State Law
    • Summer camps or workshops operated by the University unless University credit is given and regular tuition is charged

    Spouse

    A spouse, except one receiving educational assistance from the University, such as a graduate assistantship, is eligible for the grant-in-aid for any semester or summer session in which classes begin on or after the employee's date of full-time employment. There is no limitation on the number of credits that may be taken. All levels of degrees may be earned. Tuition discounts on Graduate level classes for a spouse are a taxable benefit. For more information regarding taxation on Graduate-level courses for a spouse, please visit the controller's office FAQ.

    Dependent Children

    Eligible dependent children are eligible for any semester or summer session in which classes begin on or after the employee's date of full-time employment. The grant-in-aid applies only toward undergraduate credits only until a Penn State bachelor's degree is attained. The discount does not apply toward Master's level class or higher. Undergraduate classes for dependent children are not a taxable benefit.

    Application Procedure

    Penn State Human Resources is now offering a fully automated Penn State tuition discount application process for eligible spouses and dependent children beginning with the fall 2021 semester. The new automated process will reduce the effort needed from applicants and simplify the process from start to finish.

    What is changing with the tuition discount application process?

    • Policy HR37 is now titled "Tuition Discount for Dependents."
    • The entire Penn State tuition discount process will be transparent to eligible employees and retirees. This means those taking advantage of the Penn State tuition discount benefit will no longer need to "apply" for eligible spouses or dependent children for any semester or summer session.
    • PLEASE NOTE: Your dependent(s)' Social Security Number must be listed in Workday, as this is a required field for the new process to flow smoothly and assure that your tuition bill in LionPath is accruately calculated. Please contact HR Services at 814-865-1473 for assistance.
    • Since there is no longer an "application" process, eligible retirees do not need to wait for approval or denial emails. Just simply review the student's tuition bill in LionPath under "Account Details" to verify that the tuition discount has been applied.
    • If you believe that the tuition discount was applied incorrectly or not applied to your spouse's or child's LionPath tuition bill, please contact HR Services at 814-865-1473.

    What stays the same with the tuition discount application process?

    • Eligible spouses and dependent children up to the age of 26 are eligible to receive a tuition discount of 75% of the Pennsylvania in-state tuition cost, as outlined in Policy HR37.
    • Paper application forms are still needed for Pennsylvania College of Technology dependent tuition discount requests. Please complete the application once each academic year by choosing all applicable academic year semesters and submit to Employee Benefits as instructed on the form.

    Please direct any questions regarding the new tuition discount process and Policy HR37 to HR Services at 814-865-1473.

    Grant-in-Aid Application Deadlines - Faculty, Staff, and Retirees
    Semester First Day to Apply Last Day to Apply
    Spring 2021 October 29, 2020 April 30, 2021
    Summer 2021 March 25, 2021 August 11, 2021
    Fall 2021 April 11, 2021 December 10, 2021

    Previous Updates

    Highmark and UPMC

    Penn State is excited to announce that Highmark and UPMC recently reached a 10-year agreement that will ensure broad access to UPMC hospitals and physicians. As of July 1, 2019, Highmark Medicare Advantage, Freedom Blue PPO, continue to have the same broad access to AHN, UPMC, and community hospitals and physicians that you experienced with Highmark in the past.

    Zostavax/Shingles Vaccine For Medicare-eligible Freedom Blue PPO members:

    This vaccine is covered under the Part D drug benefit. You will pay the $20 prescription copay if you receive the vaccine at a pharmacy that provides them. A great resource for you is the pharmacy at Wegman’s, who has stores across the state of Pennsylvania, for your convenience. To find a Wegman’s pharmacy near you, please use the "Find your store" feature on the Wegman's website

    If you have questions regarding coverage of the Zostavax/Shingles vaccine, please call Highmark’s Freedom Blue PPO customer service at (866) 918-5285.

    Geisinger Information

    For the Medicare-eligible retirees in the FreedomBlue PPO, effective March 1, 2013, ALL Geisinger physicians and hospitals will be out-of-network providers. The out-of-network benefit for the FreedomBlue PPO has a maximum out-of-pocket of $750 per person, per year.

    Additional Resources