Q1. What is the TCU Retiree Bridge Program?
A1. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program is an interim program that provides additional funding above and beyond the existing allocation that can be used for health care and other related eligible expenses. The TCU Board of Trustees approved the TCU Retiree Bridge Program effective July 2015 and ending December 31, 2019.
Q2. What is changing?
A2. TCU’s current over-65 retiree health care plan through OneExchange remains in its original structure, and eligible retirees will continue to see their usual annual allocations delivered to their OneExchange Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs). The TCU Retiree Bridge Program will subsidize this existing plan effective July 2015 through December 31, 2019. The current over-65 retiree health care plan through OneExchange will continue, with the monthly allowance and support mechanisms to help retirees make informed health care choices.
Q3. Why is the TCU Retiree Bridge Program being implemented?
A3. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program is designed to do just what the name indicates – provide a bridge for retirees to help with medical and prescription drug costs during a time of transition. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program affords retirees the opportunity to save, spend and/or plan differently during this interim period while changes in the health care environment continue to evolve. After December 31, 2019, the Bridge Program will end and the TCU retiree medical benefit structure will continue forward on its own.
Q4. Who is eligible for the TCU Retiree Bridge Program?
A4. A retiree must meet two main criteria to qualify: first, retire with benefits eligibility prior to December 1, 2019 and second, be Medicare primary and be enrolled in the OneExchange HRA. Any current Medicare primary benefits-eligible retiree, retiree’s spouse, partner and/or other covered dependents who are enrolled in the TCU retiree health care program through OneExchange will be eligible to participate in the additional TCU Retiree Bridge Program.
Q5. Is there anything I need to do to enroll in the program?
A5. No. If you are eligible for the program, TCU Human Resources will automatically coordinate your incremental HRA allocation.
Q6. How much allocation will I receive through the TCU Retiree Bridge Program?
A6. The amount of the additional monthly stipend for retirees during the TCU Retiree Bridge Program is based on the standard Medicare Part B premium. For 2015, the Medicare Part B premium is $104.90 per month, and is typically deducted directly from Social Security checks.
Q7. When will I receive my Bridge allocation?
A7. The initial prorated distribution for July-December, 2015 should be deposited into OneExchange Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) sometime in August or September, 2015. TCU Human Resources will notify participants once that allocation has been made. After the initial prorated distribution in 2015, the next distribution will occur in January of each year through the program end date in 2019 as a lump sum for the entire year based on the Medicare Part B Standard Premium Amount as defined by the federal government.
Q8. Will the TCU Retiree Bridge Program allocation ever change?
A8. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program allocations will not decrease below $104.90 per month during the program years, but could potentially increase if the standard Medicare Part B premium increases in years 2016-2019. Bridge allocations will be reviewed once per year coinciding with Medicare’s announced changes in Part B premiums.
Q9. Do I have to be enrolled in TCU’s retiree benefits to get this special allocation?
A9. Yes. If you were benefits eligible but did not elect to participate in retiree medical benefits immediately upon retirement, you will not be eligible for the TCU Retiree Bridge Program. Contact Human Resources for more information regarding eligibility for retiree medical benefits upon retirement.
Q10. I am not yet 65, but I am retired. Am I eligible for the TCU Retiree Bridge Program?
A10. If you are enrolled in TCU retiree medical benefits and you and/or your spouse/partner turn 65 before the TCU Retiree Bridge Program ends, enrolled OneExchange participants will receive a prorated allocation from the month he/she turns 65 for that year, and will then be eligible for additional annual allocations until the program ends in December 2019.
Q11. I am not yet a retiree but I plan to retire soon. Will I be able to participate in the TCU Retiree Bridge Program?
A11. The Bridge Program will be available to any eligible participant who retires prior to December 1, 2019 and is Medicare Primary. Bridge Program allocations for eligible participants will be managed on a prorated basis based on the date of eligibility until the program ends on December 31, 2019. Employees planning to retire must be actively enrolled on TCU’s medical benefits for at least three months prior to retirement in order to enroll in the retiree medical benefit. Contact Human Resources for more information if you are considering retirement.
Q12. How do I access the TCU Retiree Bridge Program allocations?
A12. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program allocation is deposited as a lump sum each year through 2019 and is an additional allocation to your existing Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). Funds are accessed in the same manner as the standard allocation funds, either through automatic or manual reimbursement based on your selections.
Q13. How can I use my TCU Retiree Bridge Program funds?
A13. Allocations received through the TCU Retiree Bridge Program will be deposited into the OneExchange HRA, and can be used the same way as standard allocations are currently managed. HRA funds can be used to pay for premiums and medical expenses such as prescription drugs, and unused funds can be rolled over from year to year. HRAs are tax free, and therefore must be limited to IRS-approved medical expenses only.
Q14. What happens if I don’t use the funds in my HRA each year?
A14. The HRA allocations are designed to roll over from year to year.
Q15. When will this program end?
A15. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program will expire on December 31, 2019. Bridge Program funds, along with regular allocation funds, remain in your account until you use the funds or leave the program for any reason.
Q16. Is anything changing with my current allocation?
A16. No. The existing HRA allocation will remain in place and be administered in the same fashion. The TCU Retiree Bridge Program is designed to supplement the existing program and is layered on top of the existing HRA allocation until December 2019.
Q17. Will the existing standard allocation go up?
A17. While there is no immediate plan to increase the standard allocation for the main program, TCU will assess the program periodically to determine if an increase should be considered.
Q18. My spouse/partner is on my health insurance coverage. Will he/she also receive an additional allocation from the TCU Retiree Bridge Program?
A18. – Yes. Your eligible dependent, as defined by the IRS guidelines, will receive an additional allocation from the TCU Retiree Bridge Program provided they are Medicare eligible and enrolled in a plan option through OneExchange. Please note: if a retiree elects to cover a domestic partner who is not a tax dependent, any contribution from TCU may result in a tax event. Contact TCU Human Resources for more information if this applies to you.
Q19. If something happens to me, will my covered spouse continue to receive allocations from TCU?
A19. Yes. A surviving spouse or domestic partner covered by the plan will be eligible to continue receiving regular allocations until he/she leaves the plan, as well as Bridge allocations through December 2019. Domestic partners may be subject to different tax treatments and/or plan eligibility based on IRS regulations. If you have a dependent child covered by the plan, contact TCU Human Resources for more information about coverage limitations.
Q20. Where can I learn more about resources available to help manage my benefits and other retirement programs?
A20. For the most up-to-date information on retiree programs and options, visit the TCU HR website at hr.tcu.edu or contact HR at email@example.com or at 817-257-7790.
This FAQ is for general information purposes only. Not every question or scenario can be addressed here. In the event that any part of the Bridge Program materials conflicts with the plan document, the plan document will govern. While TCU does not anticipate a change in program administration, as with any program, TCU reserves the right to modify, amend or clarify the program. If a change or clarification is necessary for any reason, the University will communicate those changes to enrolled retirees through typical channels.
A copy of this document may be downloaded by clicking TCU Retiree Bridge Program FAQs