Medicare integration

Hand holding Medicare card

To help restore USPS to financial stability, the organization’s leaders for many years have called for Medicare to be fully integrated into postal retiree health plans.

To help you understand what this means, here are some things you should know:

• Integrating the Postal Service’s Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plans with Medicare would benefit both USPS and its retirees. When postal employees retire and are enrolled in Medicare, their Medicare coverage becomes their primary health coverage and their FEHB plans become their secondary health coverage.

Most private sector employers — and many state and local governments — that provide retiree health care to their employees require them to enroll in Medicare parts A and B.

While currently postal retirees are not required to enroll in Medicare when they become eligible at age 65, the majority of retirees do so voluntarily. In fact, 3 out of 4 retirees sign up for Medicare Part B because they determine that having both Medicare and an FEHB plan provides a better value for their out-of-pocket medical costs.

• Current legislative proposals being discussed on Capitol Hill would require that the Postal Service’s FEHB plans integrate with Medicare. If enacted, these proposals would be similar to what occurs in the private sector and at the state and local government levels.

There are a number of benefits to retirees under these proposals. While retirees would have an additional cost associated with Medicare Part B coverage, many FEHB plans eliminate the deductibles, copays and coinsurance for retirees who enroll in Medicare. Some plans offer additional incentives such as lower copays for prescription drugs for participants who enroll in Medicare.

Additionally, retirees may be able to select an FEHB plan with a lower premium cost when enrolling in Medicare and still maintain 100 percent coverage. Often, these savings offset or even exceed the cost of Medicare Part B coverage for many retirees.

• Integration with Medicare would ensure that the Postal Service would be able to provide retiree health care for employees into the future. However, it’s important to understand that this proposal alone won’t restore USPS to financial stability.

The Postal Service also requires legislative reform, a better product and service pricing system, and continued efforts to innovate and improve efficiency.

USPS will provide employees and retirees with more information on Medicare integration when it becomes available.

Are you prepared?

The Postal Service is reminding employees about hurricane season, which runs each year from June 1-Nov. 30.

Most coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. The storms can cause high winds, heavy rain, flooding and other dangerous conditions.

Take these steps to prepare:

• Complete a personal preparedness plan that includes a household inventory and the location of important family documents. Share copies with relatives or friends.

• Store enough food and water to last at least three days. One gallon of drinking water per person, per day is recommended.

• Prepare your home for hurricane force winds or flooding.

• Prepare a first-aid kit and make plans for pets.

• Know your community’s hurricane plans, including evacuation routes.

• Keep contact information current using a physical address — not a PO Box and mobile telephone number. Go to the Life Changes LiteBlue page and update your address if necessary.

If a hurricane is expected, call the USPS National Employee Emergency Hotline (888-363-7462) for work schedule or reporting time change information.

The National Preparedness Blue page has more information, including emergency response checklists and the USPS Hurricane Preparedness Guide.

The National Hurricane CenterFederal Emergency Management Agency and Ready.gov sites have additional information.

Good old summertime

The recent dedication of the State and County Fairs stamps is highlighted in a new Postal Service video.

“From concerts and carnival rides to contests that award the growers of the largest pumpkin, fairs have something for everyone,” USPS Chief Operating Officer David Williams says in the video.

The four State and County Fairs stamps feature a child sitting on a fence with carnival rides in the background, fairgoers admiring livestock, children buying treats from a vendor and farmers unloading produce

The four stamps work together as a single panoramic scene or as individual images.

Bringing people together is something the Postal Service and fairs have in common, says Brianna Maddock, president of State Future Farmers of America.

“So it is profoundly perfect that these stamps will allow the Postal Service to continue to foster these connections, while giving a nod to the connective spirit of the fair,” she says.

The July 25 ceremony was held during the North Dakota State Fair in Minot.

Pass it on

Here’s Link’s latest “News Quiz,” a weekly feature that invites readers to test their knowledge of recent stories. The correct answers appear at the end.

1. Fill in the blanks: Post Offices accepted more than (blank) passport applications during fiscal 2018, generating (blank) in revenue.

a) 6.5 million, $164.9 million
b) 6.8 million, $204.6 million
c) 164.9 million, $6.5 million
d) 204.6 million, $6.8 million

2. True or false: The Postal Service delivered 33.7 billion mailpieces and packages during fiscal 2019’s third quarter, down 4.2 percent from the same period one year earlier.

a) True
b) False

3. Currently, how many people are Informed Delivery subscribers?

a) More than 18 million
b) More than 19 million
c) More than 20 million
d) More than 21 million

4. Which TV series didn’t debut in 1969?

a) “The Brady Bunch”
b) “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”
c) “Sesame Street”
d) “Star Trek”

5. To mark the release of the Military Working Dogs stamps, USPS recently produced videos that showcase four breeds and the military branch that commonly uses that breed. Match the breeds in Column A and the branches in Column B.

Column A
a) Belgian Malinois
b) Dutch shepherd
c) German shepherd
d) Labrador retriever

Column B
I) Air Force
II) Army
III) Navy
IV) Marine Corps

Answers: 1) b. 2) a. 3) a. 4) d. 5) a. IV., b. I., c. II., d. III.

Look for a new quiz next week and share your feedback with Link at uspslink@usps.gov.