Mass Retirees Weekly Update
By Mass Retirees CEO Shawn Duhamel
For this week’s news video, I’m joined by UniCare General Manager David Morales. As you might know, David is not only a longtime ally of public retirees and a friend of our Association, but also someone Frank Valeri, Nancy McGovern, Tom Bonarrigo and I have known personally for many years. Like the four of us, David got his start in the MA State House. And having both grown up in Lynn, David and Frank have known each other for many years.
David joins us this week to share some very exciting and important news: UniCare has been rebranding as Wellpoint. While the new name changes nothing for enrollees in terms of insurance coverage or healthcare benefits, it does better reflect the company’s mission. To be clear, beyond the name change there are NO changes in health insurance benefits, plan design or coverage.
According to David, “UniCare has been rebranding as Wellpoint to reflect the company’s mission of supporting its members’ whole health, which encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
“To improve overall health, we must broaden our traditional view of what healthcare means. It’s important to understand the physical, mental, emotional, and social drivers of health that impact our members and forge alliances with local organizations to enhance our members’ overall health wherever they are on their health journey. Our new name – Wellpoint – makes it clear that our members’ whole health is our whole point. Improving whole health also includes improving healthcare affordability. Since many state and municipal employees and retirees live on modest or fixed incomes, Wellpoint will continue to champion access to affordable healthcare.”
While retirees and active employees currently enrolled in a UniCare plan will begin to see the new “Wellpoint” name on written materials and on UniCare’s website, the change will not officially take effect until July 1, 2024. Following the GIC’s annual Open Enrollment (begins April 3), those enrolled in a Wellpoint insurance plan will receive new insurance cards reflecting the name change.
To repeat, there is NO action for members to take. Your new card will be mailed to you prior to July 1. Also, Wellpoint will inform your doctors and other healthcare providers of the name change. Enrollees do not need to do anything in that regard.
I strongly recommend you take the time to watch/listen to this week’s video. It is a conversation with David about the change to Wellpoint, but also provides a deeper explanation of the why the change is taking place and what it means for enrollees. The approach, which Mass Retirees wholeheartedly embraces, is to focus on ways to improve the overall physical and mental health of members.
The partnership between UniCare and Senscio Systems to make the Ibis Tele-Health platform available to Medicare enrollees is a great example of using new technology to help retirees with chronic illnesses to lead healthier lives. In doing so, the goal is to also reduce instances of hospitalization, trips to the emergency room, and to ultimately reduce healthcare costs over time.
Covering over 200,000 enrollees insured through the GIC, UniCare offers four different insurance products. Most popular amongst Medicare enrolled retirees is the UniCare Medicare Extension plan, with more than 100,000 enrollees insured.
Based in Woburn, MA the company has continuously provided health insurance options for GIC enrollees since 1988.
Mass Retirees will host a Tele-Town Hall with Wellpoint on Friday, March 29, at 2:00 PM EST. This important meeting takes place on the eve of the GIC’s annual Open Enrollment period, which begins on April 3, 2024. Please look to page 4 of the upcoming March edition of The Voice for further details on the Town Hall, as well as other upcoming Mass Retirees events.
With great appreciation,
Chief Executive Officer
Mass Retirees Association