Nevada state government retirees will see big changes to Medicare | NevadaAppeal.com
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Nevada state government retirees will see big changes to Medicare

(AP) – Nevada is on track to move state government retirees on Medicare to private insurers for gap coverage, now that a state board has approved a contract with an insurance exchange firm, a state official said Wednesday.

James Wells, executive director of the Public Employees’ Benefit Program, said the change will save the state about $8 million a year and reduce monthly costs for retirees.

The state Board of Examiners, made up of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state, on Tuesday approved a $1.5 million contract with San Mateo, Calif.-based Extend Health to counsel retirees on choosing a private plan within their exchange.

In a written statement, the benefit program said retirees “will be able to compare and purchase individual Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Part D prescription drug, dental and vision coverage from more than 45 plans offered by 12 carriers licensed in Nevada.”

Retirees no longer living in Nevada will be able to choose from other carriers depending on where they live.

“By purchasing individual plans on a health insurance exchange, retirees will have more choice and control over their health care coverage, and the opportunity to select plans that are right for them,” Wells said.

He said Medicare-eligible retirees will receive letters by the end of the month outlining the program, and informational meetings will begin in January.

The move is part of sweeping benefit changes approved by the Public Employees’ Benefits Board earlier this year in an effort to cut $111 million in expenses over the next two-year budget cycle that begins July 1.

Wells has said that without program cuts, premiums for current employees alone would skyrocket as much as 500 percent, from $40 to about $200 monthly.

Also cut were most dental benefits for active and retired employees, except for preventive procedures like cleanings, an annual exam and X-rays. More costly procedures, like fillings, crowns or root canals, will no longer covered.

Basic life insurance benefits will be reduced by half to $10,000 for active employees and $5,000 for retirees. That subsidized benefit for active employees’ dependents will be eliminated.

In all, the program reductions trimmed $80.7 million in subsidized services. Another $30 million will be made up in higher premiums paid by workers and retirees that have yet to be determined.