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Retired faculty of UMaine system worry about healthcare coverage

Retirees worry about healthcare
Retirees worry about healthcare(University of Maine System)
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Last month, retired staff from the University of Maine System began receiving emails and letters.

They said beginning January 1st, “we will no longer be administering group-sponsored coverage for medicare-eligible retirees.”

Many have taken that to mean they’re losing their healthcare coverage.

Cathleen McAnneny taught at the University of Maine Farmington for 25 years and is concerned about what comes next.

“To me, it feels like a cut. They’ve taken the position they can change the benefits to whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of negotiated contracts,” said McAnneny.

The UMaine System says this is not a cut, but a transition.

But folks upset with what they call a lack of communication feel this announcement was abrupt.

Althea Tibbetts worked as an Administrative Assistant at the University of Maine in Orono for 25 years, she officially retired Tuesday.

“There was absolutely no communication from Human Resources or anyone at the university even suggesting that there were plans to make changes. For me it felt kind of like a slap in the face to all of a sudden get notification that, oh well, you just got on this as of September 1st, but as of January 1st, you’re going to have to figure it all out again,” said Tibbetts.

“There’s a lot of folks who did the very hard work of running the institutions. Part of me thinks they did this deliberately, that we’ll send this out dismissive. When people can’t react because they’re so busy doing something else, taking care of our students. So you now have folks who may or may not be thinking about retiring, but you basically just made a major change in their benefits,” said McAnneny.

In a statement, The UMaine System says the one-size fits all benefit plan for retirees has been growing more expensive all the time.

They go on to say: “The University of Maine System will make a contribution to a Health Reimbursement Account that participants can use to purchase healthcare coverage that best fits their individual needs and reduces overall healthcare costs for our public universities and our retirees.”

Retirees are expected to have more answers in the coming weeks through a series of webinars to select their new healthcare plans.

The UMaine System says there are nearly 3,000 people receiving healthcare between retired faculty and their spouses.

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