SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Retirees Being Swindled By UFT With Medicare Advantage Rollout

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Retirees Being Swindled By UFT With Medicare Advantage Rollout

 I haven't really been paying too much attention to the change over, as well as the fight over, the switch for retirees from Medicare to the new Medicare Advantage. I've basically reduced myself to reading both James Eterno's blog and Norm Scott's blog for great information. I'm also getting some information from my step-mom who is a retired CSA member. She's not craxy about my proclivity for rabble rousing so she doesn't share much with me. 

Heck, this is going to effect me in 6 1/2 years, and I should pay more attention. From what I have read I don't like the co-payments, the referrals, and more importantly the "Trust us, it's going to be great" rhetoric coming from Mulgrew. But one thing really is bugging me.

What's the rush to sign everyone up by October 31? 

To the best of my recollection, the deal was done around July, maybe a little sooner (Please correct me if I'm incorrect). As far as I can tell, retirees are going into this blindly. They don't know which doctors, which hospitals or any other providers will be available. All they get is: "Trust us, it's going to be great."

Which brings me to two personal stories. In 1995 when I started with the DOE, I signed up with Physician Health Services. The only reason I signed up for PHS was all of our doctors were on it. I paid for it, unlike GHI which then and now is free. But eventually GHI got more of our doctors on it and we went to GHI. The key was doctors, a wide selection of doctors, and hospitals and providers.

Just recently I was looking at changing out from our top notch, world renowned UFT dental plan (SARCASM). I wanted to switch to the DENTCARE HMO. I researched it and found that not only are there very few providers, but the customer service sucks as well. It wasn't worth it. 

So, back to the Medicare Advantage. Retirees are walking blind into higgedly piggdly of a plan. There is not a list of doctors and providers. No one knows if their doctors that they have had a relationship with for years will be on this plan. No one knows if God forbid they are in treatment for a chronic condition they will be able to continue receiving the same treatment. This is where the UFT and other unions screwed up.

Why the rush? If as Mulgrew claims, "Trust us, it's going to be great," why not how all how great it is. This implementation should have started with NEXT October of 2022 for the sign ins or sign outs. This way, an educated choice of knowing ALL the providers will give those a basis to make a choice.

And beforehand why not have a true year to test out the new Medicare Advantage program. Incentivize retirees to sign up now in October 2021 and this way the kinks can and will be worked out. This way when others start opting in or out in October 2022 not one retiree will be going into this blind. 

Let's not forget the retirees who live where there re a dearth of providers. What of the retiree who has retired to North Dakota? Or the Alaska? What about where there are plenty of providers such as Florida but very few providers will be on the Medicare Advantage. Would the retiree who lives in Tampa have to schlep across the state to West Palm Beach for a prostate exam?

Something smells fishy here. This rush to get everyone in just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, there are plenty of retirees who can afford the out of pocket expense of paying into regular Medicare, but there are plenty of others who can't. And we are only stronger as people, as teachers, as retirees, and as UFT members as our weakest link. These are the people we should fight for. 

The UFT rammed this through. This should have been better explained and had much more input from retirees. This change should have been voted on as a whole by the union. Too often this happens. That some change is just shoved down our throats which the very few decide for several hundred thousand. 

Too bad chapter elections have come and gone. It's time to vote out the leadership of the retiree's chapter. Perhaps a recall is due?


Anonymous said...

New York City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor will hold a hearing on Thursday, October, 28th at 1pm in the City Council Chambers located at City Hall, New York, New York, regarding Changes to Municipal Retiree’s Healthcare Plan.
" If you wish to testify in-person, you can register to testify upon arrival in Council Chambers at City Hall. Testimony should be approximately 2 minutes." Also, please bring twenty (20) copies, double-sided of your written testimony to the hearing."
If you cannot come in person, " you can provide written testimony up to 72 hours after the hearing takes place. You can email your written testimony to:
For questions about accessibility or to request additional accommodations please contact Nicole Benjamin ( or 212-482-5176) at least 72 hours before the hearing. For all other questions about the hearing, please email Elizabeth Arzt ( or Bianca Vitale (


Anonymous said...

I am an In Service member who moved to Central Jersey a number of years ago. I cannot find a doctor close by, must travel at least 35 miles or go to Staten Island or Brooklyn. It seems our NYC national coverage is useless. The new steam is they tell you the doctor is participating but NOT "In Network" which means paying at "Out of Network" fees, co payments higher. Another thing, say a doctor is participating and IN NETWORK, how you are billed is determined by the address the doctor bills from. If the doctor has multiple offices and is "In Network" at one address, they often do their billing out of another address which is Not In Network hence, the member is screwed again.
I predict these are the kind of games that will be played with retirees. None of this is okay, you work, have coverage, pay your bills then you have to find out the hard way how limited your coverage is. People lose sleep at night over this outrage. You work your whole life and contribute a hefty portion towards your coverage for retirement years, seniors should not have to play this game, they paid for coverage already. in service members should not have to work so hard just to get the medical care they need to stay healthy either. The whole thing is a disincentive for people to take care of themselves.
One doctor told me one time a couple of years ago that only about half of Americans work and have medical coverage, they are responsible for paying for everyone else. Why hospitals charge different prices for identical procedures. They have prices for people with coverage, types of coverage and other prices for those without coverage.


if you don't like the plan you can always switch out to the original or another carrier

Pete Zucker said...

@2:50, thanks for the information

@7:07 Prices are all over the place. In December 2019 I had my shoulder replaced. When I got the bill there were three price points. Without insurance the entire bill, including overnight in the hospital, would have been $100K. The new shoulder joint would be alone, $35k. I saw what they charge with insurance. Two thirds less!