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Retirees in Action

   Jim Carr  A message from PEF Retiree President Jim Carr

Watch out for NYSHIP-Medicare pitfalls

Retirees, 2020 was a very challenging year, and despite the challenges we need to stay informed, engaged and active in 2021.

September through January is the time of year when you need to pay attention to your mail. That’s when the state Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) mails you important information on your health insurance coverage.  These booklets are:

• Evidence of Coverage (Jan 1, 2021 – Dec 31, 2021); and
• 2021 Annual Notice of change for 2021.

It’s important that we read these documents and are familiar with our coverage and our choices.  For example, in Health Insurance Choices 2021 it states on page 3 under Non-NYSHIP Plans: “Please keep in mind that Medicare allows enrollment in only one Medicare product at a time. … therefore, enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan, a Medicare Part D plan or another Medicare product (including those in which you or your covered dependents may be enrolled through another employer) in addition to your coverage will result in cancellation of your NYSHIP coverage.”

I suggest you read this whole section thoroughly!  It is important that we know our benefits in order to make informed choices.  It is also important to know when and if we should get the COVID-19 Vaccine.  Therefore, I have included the following information that went out from our PEF Retiree Office in an email blast.

Sent in behalf of James Carr, SW PEF Retirees President

PEF Retirees:

Many members have been calling asking about the plan for rollout of the COVID vaccines. I received some information from a former EAP (Employees Assistance Program) coordinator who is now a PEF retiree and also got some helpful information from our fellow retiree group RPEA that I would like to share with you.

As always, be safe. Wear a mask, social distance and, when possible, get your vaccine. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year.

In Unity,

Jim Carr

PEF Statewide Retiree President

COVID Vaccination Update

As you know, the vaccination process has begun, although at a much slower pace than was anticipated. As noted below, those in Phase 1a are currently eligible to be vaccinated. It is anticipated that we may enter Phase 1b soon, although an exact date has yet to be announced.

Eligible New Yorkers in Phase 1a are:

• High-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff);
• Residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate-care facilities;
• Federally Qualified Health Center employees;
• Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff;
• EMS workers;
• Coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers;
• Staff and residents at OPWDD, OMH and OASAS facilities; and
• Urgent Care providers.

Beginning January 4, 2021:

• All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care;
• All staff who are in direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff);
• All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations.’
• This includes, but is not limited to:

• Doctors who work in private medical practices and their staff;
• Doctors who work in hospital-affiliated medical practices and their staff;
• Doctors who work in public health clinics and their staff
• Registered nurses;
• Specialty medical practices of all types;
• Dentists and orthodontists and their staff;
• Psychiatrists and psychologists and their staff;
• Physical Therapists and their staff;
• Optometrists and their staff;
• Pharmacists and pharmacy aides;
• Home care workers;
• Hospice workers; and
• Staff of nursing homes/skilled nursing facilities who did not receive COVID vaccination through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.

Phase 1b

Following vaccinations for the health care sector, New York will move to Phase 1b of the distribution, which will include:

• Teachers and education workers;
• First responders;
• Public safety workers;
• Public transit workers; and
• People 75 and older.

Phase 1c

• People ages 65-74;
• People with certain underlying health conditions (to be determined by NYS); and
• All other essential workers (to be determined by NYS).

To help you determine when it’s your turn to receive the vaccine, New York State recently launched a new “Am I Eligible” app, which can be accessed here: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.

If you do not meet the criteria, you will receive a “currently not eligible” notification.

If you do meet the criteria, the app will designate you as “eligible”, and give you a list of providers in your area. It is up to you to schedule an appointment. It is also up to you to revisit the app as needed to check your eligibility. The Department of Health will NOT be contacting you based upon information entered previously.

Also, be sure that your physician has your up-to-date contact information, including e-mail, in the event they try to reach out regarding your ability to obtain the vaccine.

Editor’s note:  The criteria for eligibility to be vaccinated and the availability of vaccine are fluid and changing now on a frequent basis.  If you live in New York state, check with the state Health Department website at https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov for information.  However even that source may direct you to designated vaccination sites that are not yet prepared to accept appointments for vaccinations or that may not have vaccine to administer.

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