Lucent has a Benefit Answers website at http://www.benefitanswersplus.com/
This website is your online resource for benefits information that can help you make informed decisions. The website provides
links to supplement your benefits information by accessing the following Web sites:
Find out what you need to do/what happens to your benefits when you experience a change in your life related to your benefits. Learn how you can be a better healthcare consumer, View and/or print your summary plan descriptions (SPDs).
November 7, 2008
TO: John Hickey, Alcatel-Lucent Human Resources Vice President
Subject: Guaranteed Issue Rights
As you know, many of our retirees have been concerned about having documentation that would allow them to obtain Medicare supplement policies on a Guaranteed Issue basis, without regard to pre-existing medical conditions.
Surely you won't be surprised that the LRO has expended much activity in investigating options for 2009. One company has recently responded to the LRO with regard to providing Guarantee Issuance Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap policies). That company is Mutual of Omaha and their affiliates.
I have received the attached letter dated November 4, 2008 from Mutual of Omaha. In that letter they stipulate that, after their investigation, they consider all Lucent retirees to be eligible for their Guaranteed Issue Medicare Supplements (Medigap policies), without further documentation, because Lucent's current indemnity plan terminates 12/31/08.
Further, they have already established a number (1-800-492-6345) that all of our Medicare eligible retirees can call to inquire about and receive information as to the Medicare options and related prices that Mutual of Omaha will provide.
Finally, Mutual of Omaha intends to establish a fully staffed call center for serving those retirees who receive their pensions from Lucent.
So you've got a long-term-care policy. Congratulations. Now consider dumping it. In replacing an existing policy, you might also pick up some additional benefits not standard with older policies. But this strategy isn't for everyone. For one thing, you're older now, and that will add to the cost, since long-term-care polices have been growing more expensive...
Fight for Your Rights: Health Insurance Claims
It pays to face up to big insurance companies. By Dan Caplinger, Motley Fool; MSNBC.com ~ Jan 25, 2007
If your�health insurance�claim is denied, you need to do a number of things to fight the denial and give yourself the best chance of getting your claim paid...
A Harris Interactive survey of the general population, done for Lawyers.com, found 58% of all adults lack this basic document...
Preparing for the Final Hours
By Melinda Beck; The Wall Street Journal ~ Aug 18, 2009
Forget about the health-reform debate for the moment. Should you have a living will specifying the kind of care you'd want at the end of life if you couldn't speak for yourself?
Doctors, lawmakers and ethicists have been urging Americans to fill out advance directives, as they are called, for decades. Yet less than a third of American adults, and less than half of nursing-home patients, have done so. Many people don't understand the options or the consequences, or they are baffled by the legalities, according to a report prepared for Congress last year by Rand Corp., and doctors and patients alike are reluctant to broach the subject of death.
"Everybody knows they're going to die, but it's really scary to think about how," says Audrey Seeley, a registered nurse in the stroke unit at Inova Hospital in Falls Church, Va., who sees many patients who are suddenly seriously incapacitated. "A lot of people say, 'If I get to that point, I don't care what happens to me.' But your family does."
[healthcol2] Matt Slaby for The Wall Street Journal
Connie Paeglow works with elderly people and their families to discuss end-of-life preferences, including deciding on life-support care using the Five Wishes advanced-directives form.
Indeed, advance directives are as much for the living as for the dying. Without specific instructions, family members may have to decide whether you would want to be kept alive artificially, what level of disability you'd be willing to live with and how to let you die if you had no hope of recovery.
If family members aren't available, doctors are generally empowered to discontinue medical care they deem futile. But that rarely happens, largely for legal reasons, says Neil Wenger, director, UCLA Health System Ethics Center, and one of the authors of the Rand report. More often, he says, some family members are present and they want to keep terminal patients connected to life support and hope for a miracle.
Studies have found that most people would not want life-sustaining care if they were in an irreversible coma, Dr. Wenger notes. On the other hand, some patients want to be kept alive at all costs, and some religions require it. "Oftentimes, people think [advance directives] are just about ending life. But you can use them to request every intervention possible," says Jon Radulovic, a spokesman for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
How to get forms. Advance directives come in two varieties. A living will that sets out what kind of life-support care you would want in various situations, such as "if I become terminally ill or injured" or "if I become permanently unconscious." They can't anticipate every situation, so a second kind called a durable power of attorney for health care or a health-care proxy allows you to appoint someone to make health-care decisions for you.
Every state has its own versions and they are widely available online. The Caring Connections Web site of the National Hopsice and Palliative Care Organization has all 50 state forms available free at www.caringinfo.org/stateaddownload.
The Patient Self-Determination Act of 1991 requires all health-care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds to ask patients if they have advance directives and make them available. But that often occurs during the admitting process when a serious discussion is difficult.
"Five Wishes" is a less legalistic version that meets the legal requirements in 40 states. It's available from www.agingwithdignity.org for $5 a copy.
What you can specify. Most state forms are brief, setting out hypothetical situations and giving options such as being put on a ventilator, receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or receiving food or water artificially.
Five Wishes adds a third option in which you can specify that such life-support measures may be started, but then stopped if a doctor says they're not doing any good. It also asks whether you want to die at home or in a hospice and whether you would want pain medication, even if it put you to sleep. "Some people want to be awake and communicating with their family as long as possible," says Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity, which distributes Five Wishes. "Other people don't want to be in pain it's their greatest fear."
Sometimes alleviating pain can also hasten death and that's something patients should understand. "Most people want to live and they don't want to suffer and sometimes those can't both occur," says Christine Blasky, associate director of ICU at Salem Hospital in Salem, Mass.
"I put huge boxes and exclamation points around 'I do not want to be in pain,'" says Ms. Seeley, the stroke-unit nurse, who has filled out a Five Wishes form even though she is only 27. "I don't want somebody to have the burden of making a decision for me. I've seen it. It's gut-wrenching."
Connie Paeglow was given the Five Wishes form at a hospital in Denver when her husband, Wes, was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis C in 1998. He designated her as his health-care agent, said he didn't want to go on a ventilator if he couldn't breathe for himself and chose hospice care if his condition became terminal. Wes, who died in 2003, also specified that he wanted his favorite music "Superman" by Five for Fighting playing when he died.
Having all that in writing helped settle disputes with other family members, who wanted everything possible done for him, says Mrs. Paeglow, who now helps other families and patients with Five Wishes.
What do to with the forms. Advance directives do not need to be filed officially. They go into effect automatically as soon as they are signed and witnessed; some states also require notarization. It's important to give your family members and doctors copies, or at least instructions on how to access them. Some states have electronic registries that store advance directives online. Google Health has started a similar free online service. See www.google.com/intl/en/health/advance-directive.html.
How to have the discussion. The best time to begin considering advance directives is long before a health-care crisis looms. Having a doctor involved can be useful for answering medical questions. Medicare reimburses doctors for such discussions in some circumstances.
"We call these part of the important discussions in later life, along with 'When is it time to stop driving?' and 'When do you need help at home?'" says AARP President Jennie Chin Hansen. She adds that older people are often less reticent about discussing death than younger people suspect. "When you're 90 years old, it's not like you haven't thought about it, but it may be that nobody has ever asked you," she says.
Aging With Dignity's Next Steps booklet lists many possible ways to begin the conversation with loved ones, such as mentioning your own end-of-life preferences, or discussing the forms as a family group. "Everybody 18 and older should think of what they would want in case of an emergency. Let your family know, 'Here's what I value. Here's what's important to me,'" says Mr. Malley.
Write to melinda beck at HealthJournal@wsj.com
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The mission of the Kaiser Family Foundation is to provide timely, reliable, and non-partisan information on national health issues to policymakers, the media, and the general public. To advance that mission, the Foundation established kaisernetwork.org in November 2000.
Kaisernetwork.org is the premier online resource for timely and in-depth coverage of health policy news, debates and discussions. This free and comprehensive multimedia service connects users to the events, people, information, and research that shape health policy.
LRO members are encouraged to visit http://www.kaisernetwork.org/static/kncalc.cfmand decide for themselves whether the information on the website is useful. You will notice there is an option to calculate prescription drug costs under the new Medicare plan. The numbers are for those who do not have insurance. Lucent's coverage must also be factored in when comparing with those who have no other insurance coverage. A permanent link to with website will be available in the Links section of the LRO website.
Lucent Retirees Have Right To Medco's Grievance Process
The LRO has received a number of emails and phone calls from Lucent retirees on Medicare who have encountered various problems
in dealing with Medco for their prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. The LRO wants you, as a participant in Alcatel-Lucent's Medco Prescription Drug Plan, to understand that Medco is a Medicare contractor. As such, you have a right to file a grievance on any type of problem encountered with Medco or one of its network pharmacies.
A number of Lucent retirees have reported that filing a grievance has produced satisfactory results. The Medicare grievance procedure
is posted at http://www.lucentretirees.com/BenefitsTeam/docs/CMS-grievances-part-d.pdf . It describes the reasons for filing a complaint or grievance. Page 23 enumerates the problems with enrollment and disenrollment that many retirees have reported.
The address to write to about your problem is:
Medco Prescription Drugs
Service Grievance Resolution Team
P. O. Box 639405
Irving, TX 75063-9405
There is a toll-free number 1-800-230-0512 that you can call with specifics to file a complaint. The address for the Medco website
is www.medco.com, but you may need to register before you get access to relevant Web pages.
Please tell us with an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org what worked for you in dealing with Medco, or what problems remain so
that the Benefits Team can work to clear these before the next enrollment period.
Also, if you're approaching age 65 for Medicare eligibility, be sure to visit the Benefits Team Home Page at
www.lucentretirees.com/BenefitsTeam to guide you in the important decisions on Medicare coverage.
Does someone you know need help with prescription costs?
Social Security and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are working together to get Medicare beneficiaries extra help with their prescription drug costs. You can help someone you care about apply for this extra help.
Click here to learn more on the Social Security website about determining eligibility...
Important To Keep Lucent's Prescription Drug Coverage Certification Document
Most, if not all, Lucent retirees who are Medicare eligible should, by now, have received Lucent's annual certification that its prescription drug coverage is at least as good as Medicare's. It is important that Lucent retirees keep this certification among their valuable papers. The significance of this document is that should you ever drop or lose Lucent's prescription drug coverage and need to enroll in Medicare's prescription drug program, you should be able to do so without penalty as long as you do so less than 63 days after Lucent's coverage ends.
LRO Sheds Light on Alcatel-Lucent Pension Funding Notice
Alcatel-Lucent's April 2010 Pension Funding Notice reports that on 12/31/09 the market value of Plan Assets was $ 15.934 billion and Plan Obligations are $ 16.592 billion - thus indicating a funding level of about 96%.The funding level indicated in The Notice appears slightly better than the 93% shown in the ALU 20F that had been filed earlier with the SEC. The reason for the difference results from different prescribed methods of calculating the discount rate used for pension obligations. Neither amount will require cash contributions to the plan this year. read more...
From Employee Benefits Security Administration - December 2008
When your employer files for bankruptcy you should contact the administrator of pension and benefit plans or your union representative (if you are represented by a union) to request an explanation of the status of your pension or benefits. The summary plan description will tell how to get in touch with the plan administrator. Questions that you may want to ask include: ...
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, that is the safety net for retirees pension plans, has issued a White Paper that provides background on the PBGC, a description of the operation of the PBGC and the PBGC's financial condition and outlook.
Click here to access the White Paper
in the Adobe Reader file.
clear up confusion that some retirees have encountered, an LRO member has
researched what the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's (PBGC) maximum
guarantees are and under what circumstances they apply.
to read about PBGC maximum guarantees on pension payments.