01STOCK_MERCY02

JANESVILLE

About 80 people will need new health insurance plans after MercyCare pulls out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program in 2021.

A retired postal worker, who spoke to The Gazette under the condition that he not be identified, said this is another blow to postal workers who have faced a year of hardship.

MercyCare chose not to continue with the federal benefits program because of “high cost of administration and low membership,” E. Patrick Cranley, COO of MercyCare Health Plans, said in an email statement to The Gazette.

Trish Reed, spokeswoman for Mercyhealth, said the decision to leave the federal program is not tied to or caused by the health care system’s ongoing financial struggles.

Mercyhealth officials in April announced the health system was facing a $30 million financial blow because of managed Medicaid issues in the Illinois market.

Additional financial losses were experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those enrolled in MercyCare through the federal benefits program need to find a new plan between Nov. 9 and Dec. 14, according to a letter sent to beneficiaries.

MercyCare coverage will continue until the start date of the new plan, most likely on or near Jan. 1, according to the letter.

Postal employees are at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus on the job. Having to change health care plans amidst a pandemic is “not a good look,” the retired postal worker said.

The retired postal worker said he and his spouse enrolled in MercyCare because it was more affordable than their previous plan. He now worries he will have to pay more with a new plan, which is concerning because he lives on a fixed income.

After a few years on MercyCare, the retired worker said, he and his wife do not want to change providers.

Federal employees will have access to Mercyhealth providers through other plans available to federal employees, Cranley said.

The retired postal worker said he tried to reach out to U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil to discuss the federal health insurance plans but did not receive a response.

“I feel like I am being betrayed,” the Janesville man said. “I have been loyal for years and this is how you treat us.”

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