To: Retired Faculty, Staff and Other Academic Appointees on the UChicago Retiree Medical Plan
From: The Working Group on the Retiree Medical Plan
Subject: Retiree Medical Plan Update from the Working Group
Date: October 3, 2019
You will by now have heard from the Provost and CFO that in 2020 there will be changes coming to the medical plan the University offers to its retirees.
As many of you know, in July 2019, Provost Diermeier appointed a Working Group on the Retirement Medical Plan composed primarily of retired faculty and staff to recommend a course of action in response to statements of dissatisfaction with our current provider, Anthem Medicare Preferred PPO, a Medicare Advantage Plan. A poll of emeriti and a petition signed by faculty codified many complaints.  Subsequently, Human Resources undertook, at our request, a poll of staff that uncovered less dissatisfaction than among faculty, but, for Illinois residents particularly, significant concerns with the provider network.  We note that approximately 80% of University of Chicago retirees eligible for medical coverage are staff; 20% are faculty.  Government regulations require that there be equal access to any medical plan or plans by both groups.
Driving the change to Anthem for 2019 was anxiety expressed by retired staff over the premium increases that had occurred for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Plan Medicare Supplement plan offered prior to 2019. While premiums were stabilized by the switch to Anthem, the Anthem Medicare Advantage plan did not work well for all retirees.
The Working Group's goal was to recommend a solution that would be responsive both to premium costs and to retirees' expectations, based on past experience with the Medicare Supplement plan.  Our process included five multi-hour meetings in August and September; extensive work outside of meeting times; consultation with members of the Human Resources staff and other experts; and review of data.
The Working Group recommended that the University move to a different medical insurance carrier and that retirees be offered a choice between a Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement Plan. We believe that faculty and staff should have the option of deciding whether a Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement plan best suits their needs.  We also recommended that a group of retirees participate in the review of new plan documents to help make sure that they are clear and useful.
We hope you find these changes appropriate and urge you to be attentive to the communications that Human Resources will soon be sending out.  In the meantime, please be assured that our overriding goal has been to recommend a retirement medical plan that improves upon what we have now, and one that offers a real choice to retirees.
Members of the Working Group on the Retiree Medical Plan:
Neil Harris, (Chair) Preston & Sterling Morton Professor Emeritus of US History and Art History, Department of History and the College
Jeffrey Apfelbaum, Professor, Department of Anesthesia & Critical Care
Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of the History of Religions, Divinity School, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Committee on Social Thought, and the College
Veronica Guerrieri, Ronald E. Tarrson Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business
Glenn Klinksiek, Retired Assistant Vice President for Risk Management, Audit, and Safety, University of Chicago
Michael LaBarbera, Professor Emeritus, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and the College
Sabina Shaikh, Senior Lecturer, Harris School of Public Policy and the Social Sciences Collegiate Division; Director of the Program on Global Environment, the Environmental & Urban Studies Major, and the Environment, Agriculture, and Food Working Group