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National Early Retirement Major Medical Benefit Plan increases lifetime maximum

CLEVELAND, January 23 -- United Health Care recently announced that, effective January 1, 2004, the lifetime maximum benefit for each individual covered under the Railroad Employees National Early Retirement Major Medical Benefit Plan (ERMA) will increase from $84,100 to $88,100.

The maximum benefit is adjusted each year based on the medical cost component of the Consumer Price Index. The $4,000 in additional benefits payable applies to expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2004.

The information below summarizes the requirements for coverage under ERMA under the new legislation.

Eligibility Rules
For age annuitants:

  • You apply for a 60/30 annuity for which you are eligible:
    -- on or after the date you reach 60, or
    -- anytime during the three months before your 60th birthday, provided you continue working into the month before the month in which you turn age 60.
    on the day before you apply for your annuity, you must be covered (other than under COBRA) under the Railroad Employees National Health and Welfare Plan.

    For disability annuitants:
  • You have a current connection with the railroad industry.
  • You have applied for a disability annuity to which you are entitled.
  • You are covered under the Railroad Employees National Health and Welfare Plan (other than by COBRA) on the day before the latest of the following dates:
    -- the date you reach age 60
    -- the date you became disabled
    -- the date your railroad service equals 30 years.

    If you retire and are eligible for GA-46000, you can also purchase supplemental coverage under GA-23111, Plan E. Generally, Plan E pays 70 percent of the expenses not paid under GA-46000 and has a lifetime maximum of $200,000.

    Enrollment is necessary

    When you retire, you railroad will not report you to United Health Care as a retiree eligible for GA-46000. You must enroll yourself and your family with United Health Care. You can do this in two ways:
    -- You can purchase GA-23111, Plan E. Your eligibility for GA-46000 will be verified when your enrollment for that coverage is processed. ID cards for both GA-46000 and GA-23111 will be sent to you. A booklet explaining the Plan E benefits and an enrollment form can be obtained by calling United Health Care.
    -- You can complete and return the "Retiree and Dependent Information" form found in the center of the GA-46000 employee booklet. Your eligibility will be verified and a GA-46000 ID card will be sent to you. You can obtain a GA-46000 booklet from you employer or union representative.

    If you have any questions about your eligibility for GA-46000 or the benefits provided under the plan, call United Health Care at 1-800-842-5252.

    Friday, January 23, 2004
    bentley@ble-t.org

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