September/October 2023 LivingPower Newsletter
By Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA
As keeper of the public purse, I have a duty and loyalty of care to preserve and protect benefits for retirees like you, as well as those who currently teach, protect, and otherwise serve. You have dedicated your working time to the citizens of North Carolina, and it is important to remember the Department of State Treasurer (DST) continues to work FOR YOU even after you retire. This includes delivering on-time monthly benefit payments to over 350,000 retirees and providing the best customer service, resources, and access to high-quality, low-cost benefit options.
I am pleased to announce that State Health Plan premiums are frozen for the sixth year in a row. Open Enrollment for the 2024 benefit year will be held Oct. 9-27, 2023. Non-Medicare retirees will continue to have the same health plan options as they do today. The Base PPO Plan (70/30) remains premium-free for eligible retirees. Members will need to take action during Open Enrollment if they would like to make any changes regarding their dependents or to enroll in the Enhanced PPO Plan (80/20). If no action is taken, the member will be moved to the 70/30 Plan.
Retirees who are Medicare-eligible and on the Humana Medicare Advantage Base Plan will continue to enjoy premium-free benefits, pay only $4 per month for a spouse or per dependent, all with ZERO cost to taxpayers.
Those who are satisfied with the plan in which they are currently enrolled will REMAIN on that plan for 2024 and do not need to take action during Open Enrollment. This includes the Humana Medicare Advantage Base or Enhanced Plan (90/10) or the Base PPO Plan (70/30). The good news continues as 87% of retirees over the age of 65 are taking advantage of these plans, saving $47 million for taxpayers.
If you would like to change plans or make changes to your dependents, you will need to take action during Open Enrollment! I encourage you to participate in State Health Plan outreach events prior to and during Open Enrollment. These include in-person events, webinars, and a telephone town hall. For more information and to register, visit www.shpnc.org.
Fall is a busy time of year, and you may be inundated with messages from insurance carriers and organizations by mail or phone and on television. I want to share some helpful tips to make sure you don’t do anything to NEGATIVELY IMPACT your State Health Plan coverage.
- Insurance agents or brokers may call you and encourage you to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplement. They ARE NOT calling from your State Health Plan, and the plans they’re selling are DIFFERENT from what the State Health Plan offers.
- Please know that you cannot be enrolled in two different Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans at the same time.
- Therefore, if you enroll in something other than the State Health Plan’s Humana Group Medicare Advantage Plans (90/10), you will most likely be bumped out of your current Humana Group Medicare Advantage Plan (90/10) and enrolled into the 70/30 PPO Plan, which may cost more.
- Be wary of commercials featuring famous actors or athletes. Plans featured on television ARE NOT the same as your State Health Plan coverage. Calling to enroll in a plan that you saw on television may NEGATIVELY impact your State Health Plan coverage.
During Open Enrollment, the State Health Plan’s Eligibility and Enrollment Support Center (855-859-9066) offers extended hours Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Be on the lookout for your Open Enrollment Decision Guide arriving by mail prior to Open Enrollment!
Supplemental Insurance (Dental, Vision, and Identity Theft Protection)
DST consistently works towards cost-effective options for our retirees. Negotiations over the past four years have resulted in substantial premium savings and better coverage for supplemental insurance offered through Pierce Insurance. If you choose to participate, payments for coverage can be deducted directly from your monthly retirement benefit, direct billed, or by bank draft.
Open Enrollment for dental, vision, and identity theft protection takes place Sept. 15-Oct. 31.
If you are currently enrolled, no action is needed. For more information and to enroll in benefits that will be effective Jan. 1, 2024, visit www.ncretiree.com or call 855-627-3847.
Thank you for your service to the citizens of North Carolina and for being a valuable member of the North Carolina Retirement Systems.
In June of 2023, the State of North Carolina, including the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees and State Treasurer Dale Folwell, filed a Writ of Prohibition with the North Carolina Supreme Court seeking to overturn and prohibit the March 2022 Supreme Court decision on Lake v. NC State Health Plan from moving forward at the trial court level. The North Carolina Supreme Court’s March 2022 decision determined that eligible State employees have a contractually vested right in a noncontributory health plan for life, equivalent to the plan in place when a class member’s rights are vested.
On October 20, 2023, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied the Writ of Prohibition, allowing the case to continue to be adjudicated in the Gaston County, North Carolina Superior Court.
Use this link for more official NCRGEA information about the Lake Case: Lake Class Case – Gray Layton Kersh.
September/October 2023 LivingPower Newsletter
By State Employees’ Credit Union
Did you know that State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) has local advisors who are fully
devoted to helping members with comprehensive financial planning services? From insurance and investments to managing retirement risks to estate planning and trust services, members have access to the services they need to help achieve and maintain their financial goals. Dedicated specialists can help members plan their financial future at any SECU branch location.
The advisors, titled Financial Advisory Services (FAS) specialists, are salaried employees who
are committed to acting in our members’ best interests. This unique business model allows us to focus on our mission—providing personalized services to help members meet their financial needs and objectives— while remaining committed to the long-established SECU philosophy of People Helping People® and member-focused service.
Everyone can benefit from discussing financial needs and goals with a professional. Our Financial Advisory Services specialists can help members get started by working together to identify financial objectives and prioritize the next steps. They can help implement strategies designed to meet short and long-term goals. Additionally, they can objectively review an existing plan to confirm strengths and areas for improvement or important consideration. Finally, our advisors can help members monitor and adapt their plans over time to increase the likelihood of being prepared for both expected and unexpected life events.
SECU is invested in our members’ success and well-being! Our goal is for our members to leave a meeting with our advisors, knowing they have an advocate and coach who will be by their side on their financial journey. Contact your local branch and ask to speak to a FAS specialist today! Not yet an SECU member? Join today to access these and our many other financial services.
Life insurance is offered through SECU Life Insurance Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary
of State Employees’ Credit Union. Investment advisory services are offered through Credit Union Investment Services. Securities are offered through SECU Brokerage Services: member FINRA, SIPC. Trust Services are offered through Members Trust Company, a federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Securities, Trust, and Insurance products are not Credit Union deposits, are not obligations of or guaranteed by the Credit Union or Members Trust Company, and are not insured by the NCUA or any federal government agency. Securities and Trust products involve investment risks, including possible loss of principal invested. Insurance products are subject to underwriting. Investment, Trust, and Insurance representatives are Credit Union employees who may accept deposits. Investment and Insurance representatives are licensed in North Carolina only.
LivingPower September/October 2023
By Mike Taylor
Attendees at Durham Fall Conference
One line from our website says it all. “If you are a member, get involved here.” Membership in NCRGEA offers each of you a variety of opportunities to do just that, get involved. From a Zoom briefing in the comfort of your home to local district gatherings to regional conferences, your association is making it easy to get involved and engage.
One of the pleasures I take from serving as President of NCRGEA is to attend our regional conferences. Since last fall, I have attended conferences in Concord, Shelby, Winston Salem, Fayetteville, here in my home county of Carteret at Morehead City, and Hendersonville. And later this month, we have conferences scheduled for Statesville (September 13), Durham (September 19), and Greenville (September 26). This job is certainly offering me a crash course in NC geography.
You should have already received an invitation to attend one of the September conferences, and if one is close to you, I especially encourage you to do so. As our Executive Director Tim O’Connell says of these conferences, “The goal is to bring retirees together.” The conferences offer a chance to find out the latest information about a multitude of issues that impact our lives as retired public servants. Topics for the conferences include health insurance, Social Security, updates from the NC State Treasurer’s office, General Assembly happenings, and much more. Over a dozen of our sponsors and state agencies have tables to distribute information, talk with retirees about specific issues, and even offer freebies to take home.
At the spring conference in Hendersonville, Humana offered hand fans to attendees. I had to have one of those and told the gathering, in my opening welcome, after seeing the fans I had a flashback to that rural church I attended in my youth where similar fans provided our air conditioning. Of course, those fans were all provided by the local funeral home!
But NCRGEA provides so many more opportunities for you to get involved in your association. NCRGEA has nine regional districts that stretch from the mountains to the coast. Those nine districts come in all shapes and sizes. In the northeastern portion of our state, District 5 is made up of 25 counties, while District 8 includes just one county, Wake. Given the location of the state government, that should be easy to understand.
But no matter the geographic size of our districts or the number of retirees that live there, all NCRGEA members have the same opportunities through a Community Advisory Board (CAB) that is established in each district. These CABs, which meet at least twice a year, help connect NCRGEA with its membership at the local level. Join the CAB in your district. You can find out more information on a CAB near you by visiting the NCRGEA website.
Dr. Deryl Davis Fulmer, a retiree from the NC community college system, who also worked in higher education in Wisconsin, serves as our Community Liaison, connecting members with activities like our monthly Lunch and Learn webinars and other Zoom programs. These active engagement programs cover the spectrum of topics, from “Aging Un-Lonely,” steering clear of internet fraud, health insurance, and how to organize your documents for the inevitable (no explanation needed). We are quickly discovering that providing educational content programming is a value-added feature of your membership. Participation has been strong, with virtual attendance totaling over 1,400 since January 1, 2023. Dr. Fulmer adds, “It’s exciting to know how many members we are reaching.”
NCRGEA believes strongly in getting you, the membership, involved, and your participation is proving that if offered a good program, NCRGEA members will zoom in!
There are numerous opportunities for you to get involved in your association. Another line from our
website sums it up best: “NCRGEA is for those who want to be more active and engaged in retirement.”
LivingPower September/October 2023
By Deryl Davis Fulmer
Dear Fellow Retirees,
Can you believe it? Fall is already here! The year has flown by; before we know it, it will be Christmas.
Please make sure you send us your holiday recipes, desserts, or drinks that you have enjoyed over the
years and want to share. We will publish our first NCRGEA Digital Holiday Recipe Book on November
3rd, just in time to enjoy it during the holidays. Be a part of this exciting and new activity and show off your culinary skills! Here’s the link: www.ncrgea.com/submit-a-recipe.
In June, we launched our first Virtual Lunch and Learn webinars, developed to share important topics that will help you to navigate retirement, understand aging concerns, and have information at your fingertips to improve your quality of life. It was held via Zoom on Wednesday, June 28th, from 12:30-
1:30 pm. It was entitled: Aging Un-Lonely: Staying Connected for your Health. Over 330 members
registered, and over 90 attended. Dr. Megan Smith, UNC-Charlotte; Dr. Cheryl Greenberg, AARP/The Age Coach; and Ms. Rebecca Freeman, NC Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS/DHHS) gave the audience useful tools to help with isolation and loneliness. They encouraged participants to reach out to them if they had questions and/or needed resources. It was a great event and start to our Lunch
and Learn series.
On July 18th, AMBA representative, Jon Green, talked about the benefits of AMBA and the Passport Discount that is part of the NCRGEA membership packet. Members really enjoyed learning about these benefits and immediately began to access them. On August 16th, our third Lunch and Learn was about Aetna’s upcoming role as the third-party administrator for the state’s Health Care Plan. More than 370 members signed up for this informative session, and they asked a lot of questions. Our members are requesting more of these educational presentations, so the Lunch and Learns are currently scheduled as a monthly event on Wednesdays from 12:30 – 1:30 pm. Please watch for the logo and be sure to register to attend. NCRGEA sends information and registration instructions to your email, so it is important that we have your email address. We encourage you to invite friends (members and non-members) to join these events. If you need to provide or update your email address, please send that information to info@ ncrgea.com or call our office at 919-834-4652.
In early July, I had the opportunity to attend the CenterWell Primary Care service launch for Medicare patients who live in Durham and surrounding areas. CenterWell is the largest of such services in the US and has locations in other parts of NC as well. Tiffany Roberts, the new market president, stated, “We are truly delighted to bring CenterWell Senior Primary Care to the Raleigh/ Durham community. Seniors live at the heart of CenterWell’s mission, to deliver personalized care that isn’t rushed, with a dedicated care team that is accessible and focuses on the unique physical, emotional, and social wellness needs of seniors.” For more information about CenterWell Senior Primary Care or to schedule a tour, visit seniorfocusednc.com.
We’ve heard from many of you, and you are interested in securing part-time employment. The Governor’s “Hometown Strong Initiative: Empowering Rural North Carolina” (featured in the July/August edition) may be what you are seeking. Please visit their website: hometownstrong.nc.gov, for more information. Be sure to check it out.
If you are interested in volunteering, please remember the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program and Meals on Wheels programs in your area. These organizations are always in need of volunteers across the state!
If you are in Wake County, please consider volunteering for the Center for Volunteer Caregiving. Your help is needed!
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know if you want to join your district’s Community Advisory Board (CAB). And finally, if you are a new retiree, please consider joining NCRGEA and become active with us!
Happy Fall, everyone!