Page last updated: 10/10/2011

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The Metropolitan Retirees Association (MRA) is an organization for employees who have retired from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. It provides an opportunity for folks to get together periodically and catch up with old friends. We generally hold three meetings per year in Manhattan: spring (April), summer (July or August) and winter (December, for the holiday luncheon).

We will periodically post information about upcoming meetings on this web site, and we invite you to join our mailing list. However, since the association is no longer sponsored by the company, we ask for annual dues of $5.00. A printable copy of the most recent newsletter (10/04/2011) is on the web site. To view or print this file, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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Connections Newsletter Moves to the Internet

Met Life is no longer be distributing hard copy of its retiree newsletter through the mail. Instead, the newsletter (which is published every six months) appears on the MetLife Retiree Service Center website. The most recent issue (Summer 2011) is now available here.

Upcoming Events

Holiday Luncheon Set for December 8th

The annual holiday luncheon is set for December 8, 2011 at the Heartland Brewery. We are pleased to say that the price remains the same $36. It is good that Heartland Brewery is able to maintain its price and still provide several entrées to select from. The luncheon is an opportunity to sit with friends, enjoy a pleasant afternoon and a good meal. We hope you will attend, and guests are welcome.

Date: Thursday, December 8
Time: 12 noon
Location: Heartland Brewery
Address: 127 West 43rd Street (between Sixth Ave & Times Squares)
New York, NY 10036
Telephone: 1(646) 366-0235
Cost: $36 for all guests
Handicap Accesibility: There is a ramp to the right of the main entrance
Table Size: Can accommodate up to 16 guests

When reserving the restaurant, we guaranteed a minimum of 80 guests. Usually about 85-90 members participate; we hope you can join us and we look forward to being with all of you. Please remember guests are welcome.

Menu

Appetizers: Caesar Salad with Garlic Parmesan Croutons, Fresh Baby Spinach Salad with Goat cheese, Apples and Pine Nuts

Entrée: Romanian Tenderloin Steak, (served medium), Chicken Marsala, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, or a vegetarian dish of Wild Rice Mushroom Ravioli

Vegetables: roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and, baked Asparagus/parmesan

Dessert, coffee, and tea. Unlimited soda will be served at the tables.

Please note that wine, beer and alcoholic drinks are not included in the price. However, they are available at the bar; please pay for your drinks as you order them.

When responding please state your choice of entrée and with whom you wish to be seated. The appetizers and vegetables are served family style. If possible, select one member of your group to send in one check with all of the names and entrées for your group. The meal will be served at noon, please arrive about 11:30 a.m.

Checks are to be made payable to "Metropolitan Retirees Association."

Mail checks to: Diane Schwab-350 First Ave., Apt. 8A, NY, NY 10010 Tel. 212-777-9055. E-mail: Diane350@RCN.com

Please include your home phone number on the check.

Highlights of Last Meeting (September 2011)

Our summer meeting featured Ms. Fay Radding, Senior Gerontologist at MetLife Mature Market Institute. The following summary was prepared by Program Director Carl Barrera.

The Retiree Association met on September 1, 2011 at the Church of the Epiphany Hall. The main topic of the meeting was a presentation about the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Prior to the feature presentation , Carl Barrera, Program Director reported that some retirees had complained about a notice sent by MetLife to retirees stating that the detailed monthly pension statement being mailed to retirees will be terminated effective the end of October 2011.

Human Resources provided the Association with a letter explaining that retirees with access to the internet could go to the website mybenefits.metlife.com to get a detailed report of their pension payments, showing all deductions from it. They could also call the MetLife Retiree Service Center at 800 553-3803 to get the same information.

Our featured speaker from the Institute was Fay Radding, Senior Gerontologist. Before joining MetLife, Fay had worked as a nurse for the elderly, and in her work for a non-profit she designed support programs for families caring for older adults in need. The Institute is a department of MetLife consisting of ten persons. It was created about 14 years ago and is located in Westport, CT where MetLife's long-term care insurance is administered. The Institute's expertise, research studies and consumer publications support the MetLife lines of business. It is not focused on any particular product lines. The Institute partners with universities and different independent organizations like the National Council on Aging and the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement. It produces press releases and studies that gain national recognition in the media, such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the New York Times. Last year such media attention had a value of over $37 million.

Elder abuse is defined as the unauthorized use or illegal taking of funds or property of persons aged 60 and older. Last year such abuse was estimated to total at least $2.9 billion. Thirty four percent of abuse cases were perpetrated by the family, friends, neighbors or care givers of the victims. Strangers accounted for 51% and businesses for 12%. of the abuse. Medicare or Medicaid fraud accounted for 4%.

Women are twice as likely to be victims. Most victims live alone, are between 80 and 89 years old and require some kind of assistance with healthcare or home maintenance. The common thread in these cases is that the perpetrators are good at gaining the confidence of the victims. The actual amount of fraud committed is much greater than is reported, because it is estimated that for each case reported, 4 to 5 go unreported.

Ms. Radding provided the audience with copies of two pamphlets published by the Institute on preventing elder financial abuse. More information can be obtained on line at www.maturemarketinstitute.com. You may also write to MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Green Farms Rd., Westport, CT 06880. We hope to have a representative of the Institute at our annual holiday luncheon who could answer further questions.

A complete set of the slides used in Ms. Radding's presentation can be found here.

Other News

If you have not paid dues yet, please remember they remain $5. However, we suggest that if you are able to give a greater amount, please do so. The dues pay for the postage and photo copying of the notices; the insurance and rental fees required to use the church hall; the refreshments that are available at the meetings; and the fee for the 'my family' web site. If you haven't yet paid, please make check payable to “Metropolitan Retirees Association.” For instructions on where to mail your check, please contact our treasurer, Diane Schwab (E-mail: Diane350@rcn.com).


Met in the News

Do you remember hearing that Met planned to build the world's tallest building on the North Building site? Well it was true, that is why the north building was built with four basements. In April, the New York Times, printed an article on "Ghost Buildings of 1929", the article had a photograph of the proposed 100 story building. The paper's web site provided a printable copy of the article, which pictures the proposed skyscraper. The link for the article on the NY Times website is: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/realestate/26scapes.html?emc=eta1 . Instead of 100 stories, there is the present thirty-eight story building that went up in 1938. According to the article, Mr. Ecker, then president of Met, said the design of the building was tentative.

Keep in touch

To receive MRA news electronically, please send your e-mail address to Mary LoSardo (mlosardo@prodigy.net), who is maintaining our list. If you have not already done so, send your telephone number to our President, Jean Verrico or our Treasurer, Diane Schwab.

In Memoriam

We have recently learned directly from friends or family members of the passing of several of our former co-workers. With regret we note the passing of:

John C Best
Bill Callan
Jospehine DePonte
Marion Guida
Ed Kostal
Muriel Moore
Sarah J Powers


Officers

The current officers of the Metropolitan Retirees Association are:
President: Jean Verrico Personal Insurance,
Information Technology
Treasurer: Diane Schwab
Surrender Change & Maturity,
Information Technology
Other Officers: John Hassett, Emerald Midinian, Mary Scholz, Florence Spencer, Madeline Ward, Anne Marie Weiler, and Rose Zanca

Dues are payable to "Metropolitan Retirees Association" and should be sent to our treasurer, Diane Schwab.

Contact Information

Jean Verrico (President) nyc333e14@aol.com
Diane Schwab (Treasurer) Diane350@rcn.com
Mary LoSardo (Website) mlosardo@prodigy.net

Websites

The MRA constitution requires that members be former employees of MetLife who receive a pension from MetLife. When we established two web sites, we were not aware that former long term employees who left Met but were not eligible to obtain a pension from MetLife would be interested in accessing the web sites. Therefore we have changed the name and accessibility of one web site.

Metropolitan Retirees Association -- (this site) is for retired members of MetLife but can be accessed by anyone

MetLife Retirees Plus -- is for retired and former employees who had many years of service but are not eligible to receive a MetLife pension. However, because it is interactive and allows participants to engage in dialogue, an individual must request access to the site by notifying Vinnie Motto at qalagozo1226@verizon.net Recently, this site (the "my family" web site) is encountering problems in notifying all members that updated data is available. Our "My Family" site coordinator Vince Motto who coordinates advises that the problem is being addressed by the "my family" system. In the meantime, if you are not being notified, and wish to access the site, go to the site which will provide an ID screen for you to complete.

Meeting Archives

April 2011

On April 8, MetLife hosted our spring meeting at its new headquarters at 1095 Avenue of the Americas (at 42nd Street). The meeting was arranged by Ms. Kathy Henkel, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, who just recently retired herself. Ms. Henkel generously arranged for the Company to host a meeting of the Association for the first time since the Company ceased its sponsorship of a retiree association.

Over 160 of our members enjoyed lunch and were delighted with the wonderful ambience of the new auditorium with its city views above Bryant Park.The famous Wyeth murals were on display in the Auditorium which had formerly graced the walls of the old South Building.

With many thanks to Eileen Gallagher Witkowski, for sharing this wonderful collage of photos she took at the meeting.

Nicholas Latrenta, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Company preceded our guest speaker. Mr. Latrenta explained that Rob Henrikson the former President and CEO of MetLife has retired and is now solely the Chairman of the Board. He has been succeeded by Steven A. Kandarian who is now President and CEO of the Company.

William P. Gardella, Chief Counsel, Real Estate Investments, was our guest speaker. He described the work of the real estate professionals and lawyers who work together to acquire and sell real estate investments for the company throughout the country and the world. He showed slides of the main corporate offices of the Company and other notable properties the Company owned. He also described the huge sales of our old headquarters at 1 Madison Avenue and the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper properties. Since our acquisition of ALICO the international insurance subsidiary of AIG, we have increased our physical presence in many parts of the world. Mr. Gardella happily answered the many questions that came from the audience.

September 2010

Our guest speaker for this meeting was Meridith Dudzinski, new Director of Benefits, for employee and retiree benefits from our Bridgewater NJ office. Meridith joined Met in 1997 and has worked in the HR Benefits area since 2004. Her role includes the planning, design, delivery and administration of the medical and prescription drug benefit programs for active and retired employees. The topic of Meridith’s discussion was “MetLife’s Prescription Drug Program,” and she also responded to various questions in regards to the Medical plan.

Copies of the slides used in the presentation are available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format.

Questions regarding prescriptions drug benefits should be referred to Express Scripts at 800 315-2589. Question regarding medical benefits should be referred to UnitedHealthcare (UHC) at 800-962-1345 or Aetna at 800-618-0495 (based on your medical plan election). You can also contact the MetLife Retiree Service Center at 800-553-3803 with any benefits- related questions.

The following summary of the presentation was prepared by Carl Barrera:

MetLife medical benefits are delivered to Medicare-eligible participants either through Aetna or UnitedHealthcare. These plans are not Medicare supplement plans, and they pay secondary benefits to Medicare based on non-duplication coordination of benefits. Therefore, the Medical plan will generally not pay benefits until you meet your MetLife Out- of-Pocket (OOP) Maximum. Express Scripts prescription drug benefits are included with your UHC or Aetna Medical Plan election (i.e. you do not elect prescription drug benefits separately). Medicare-eligible retirees can also elect Express Scripts’ Prescription Drug Only coverage and obtain medical benefits elsewhere (i.e., a Medicare supplement plan, etc).

Waiving Benefits is an Irrevocable Decision! If retirees waive both medical and prescription drug coverage, they are ineligible to obtain these benefits in the future at a subsequent open enrollment; a decision to waive benefits is irrevocable. And, a retiree must maintain eligibility in order for their spouse (and covered dependents) to maintain eligibility. If the retiree waives coverage for a dependent, this dependent cannot be added back to benefits later (unless a recognized, qualified change in status occurs). If a retiree were to elect Prescription Drug Only coverage, he or she could return to the medical plan later, since the prescription drug only plan is considered a medical plan option.

Prescription Drug Coverage MetLife generally reimburses more prescription drug claim dollars than medical claims, since MetLife’s Express Scripts prescription drug plan pays primary coverage. Express Scripts (ESI) provides benefits at your retail pharmacy (including over 60,000 local pharmacies) or through the mail at Express Scripts’ Home Delivery. Last year ESI paid over one million prescriptions for MetLife employees, retirees and dependents!

Below are some highlights of the Express Scripts Prescription Drug Program:

Retail Benefit: The ESI retail program is designed for filling prescriptions at local pharmacies for such things as antibiotics, medicines needed for immediate or short term use, and medications needed for acute (brief and severe) illnesses. You can get up to a 30- day supply at your local pharmacy. Retail prescriptions are subject to deductibles, coinsurance payments and an out-of-pocket maximum (combined with home delivery).

Home Delivery: The ESI home delivery program covers medications needed for maintenance of medical problems which are long term. They are used to treat chronic and on-going illnesses, like heart problems and for medications that are still needed after 3 refills at a local pharmacy. You can get up to a 90-day supply at Express Script’s Home Delivery pharmacy. Home Delivery prescriptions are not subject to deductibles, but there are coinsurance payments and an out-of-pocket maximum (combined with retail). There is a per prescription maximum for each eligible 90-day supply which limits what you spend for maintenance drugs.

Generic Drugs: Retirees are encouraged to take generic drugs because they are less expensive and generally as effective as brand name drugs. In most states, including at Express Scripts’ Home Delivery, generic drugs are substituted for brand drugs when available. If a patient or doctor insists on a brand drug, such as Lipitor (for cholesterol control), the brand can still be dispensed but the prescription should be noted “dispense as written, with no substitution”. You will pay more for brand drugs.

Step Therapy: ESI has established a program called “step therapy” which applies only to select drugs (e.g. it does not apply to Lipitor). It classifies these medicines as either front line drugs (generic) or back up drugs (brand name). If a doctor prescribes a back up drug, the pharmacist and/or ESI will contact the prescribing doctor to ask if a front line drug can be substituted before filling the prescription. If the doctor insists on the back up drug, they must request a prior authorization review. If a prior authorization is not approved, a brand drug impacted by step therapy would not be covered.

Specialty Drugs: Specialty drugs are very expensive drugs (some even cost thousands of dollars) that are needed in rare situations. These require prior authorization from both your doctor and Express Scripts. Express Scripts’ Specialty Pharmacy is called CuraScript.

NationsHealth: Part B drugs, such as diabetic supplies for persons covered by Medicare, are dispensed at Express Scripts’ Medicare Part B pharmacy, NationsHealth

Drug Quantity Management: MetLife’s prescription drug plan includes drug quantity management programs, such as real time monitoring of the interaction of drugs with each other, the duplication of ingredients in drugs, the limiting of certain quantities of drugs (based on FDA guidelines), and making sure that patients have prior authorization before using certain drugs for a particular purpose. These programs are in place for your safety.

Safety Net: MetLife provides safety nets to protect retirees from excessive prescription drug costs. There is an out-of-pocket maximum on the prescription drug plan. This annual amount (which can change each year), coupled with the per prescription maximum for home delivery drugs, helps limit your financial exposure to prescription drug costs.

Medical Out-of-Pocket (OOP) Maximum: An additional safety net under the Medical Plan is the Out-of-Pocket (OOP) Maximum. Once this maximum is reached, the Medical plan benefit increases to 100% for covered services. Therefore, once you reach your OOP Maximum (generally based on your retirement date or income level, Medicare status and plan election) the plan would then pick up the 20% remaining after Medicare’s primary payment. If your OOP Maximum is $2,250 for example, this does not mean you will need to spend $2,250 before the MetLife Medical Plan will issue benefits. This is because if you are enrolled in the UHC/Aetna Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), for example, the plan is calculating your OOP Maximum based on the plan’s coinsurance of 60%, while Medicare pays 80%. Therefore, your OOP Maximum is assuming you are paying 40% while you are usually only paying 20%. For example, if the medical charge is $100 and Medicare pays $80 and you pay $20, the amount of credit to your out of pocket maximum is roughly $40. In summary, your OOP Maximum is generally accumulating faster than your actual health care spending.

Health Care Reform and 2011 Open Enrollment As you know from the news, substantial federal healthcare reform was enacted on March 23, 2010. MetLife’s Open Enrollment materials will be distributed starting October 18th,

2010. All changes related to healthcare reform or otherwise, will be described in the Open Enrollment materials, and retirees will have ample time to finalize 2011 benefit elections. For example: The age for dependent coverage has been increased. It was up to end of month following attainment of age 19 or age 23 if a full time student. It is now up to end of the year following attainment of age 26, regardless of marital or student status. In addition, the lifetime maximum on covered medical expenses used to be $3 million. Now the lifetime maximum will be unlimited.

Meridith took many questions from the audience, both during her presentation and afterwards. We thanked her for her presentation and the meeting ended

.

Spring 2010

Carl Barrera provided the following minutes from the meeting:

Bill Toppeta, President of the International operations of MetLife since July 2001 was our speaker. Bill began his career as an attorney in the Law Department in 1973 after graduating from New York University Law School where he was a student of John Creedon who taught there part time. Later Bill was recruited by John to work at MetLife. Prior to law school, Bill graduated from Fordham College where he was President of his class.

After becoming head of the Litigation Section of the Law Department, and serving as Executive Assistant to former CEO Dick Shinn, Bill was chosen to head up MetLife’s Canadian operations which at that time represented 10 percent of the Company’s business. Bill held a number of other important business positions before becoming head of International.

Bill caveated his remarks with a disclaimer noting that the information in his presentation should not be relied on for investment purposes. Bill gave us a slide presentation as he spoke about the Company, taking questions as he went through the slides. The group found the information very informative and helpful. The following is a summary of his remarks.

MetLife currently has about 56,000 employees. The company's market capitalization as of March 2010 was approximately $35.5 billion and it is the 51st largest company in Fortune's list of the top 500 companies and the #1 life insurance company. Met is in the process of purchasing ALICO, a subsidiary of AIG for $15.5 billion. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. While ALICO is an American company, almost all of its business is in foreign countries. MetLife presently has 70 million customers and ALICO has 20 million customers.

Currently, MetLife is the largest life insurance company in the United States and Mexico. It is the second largest non-bank owned insurance company in Brazil.

Last year International operations contributed approximately 15% of the Company’s operating earnings. In the year 2011, it is estimated that International will contribute more than 40% of MetLife’s total operating earnings. It is also estimated that after the acquisition, MetLife’s debt to capital ratio will be even stronger than it is now. MetLife now has access to 90% of the world’s area where life insurance premiums are generated. MetLife has a thriving operation in Mexico, where the life insurance market has grown significantly.

MetLife does not export any of its U.S. products abroad, but it does export its expertise to help design products for the local markets. All of the products it sells abroad are specifically designed for the countries in which it operates, in order to conform to local laws and the needs of the local customers. Its customers abroad -- similar to the U.S. -- consist largely of middle-market customers. In Japan, our joint venture partner only sells annuities. It is among the top 3 insurers in Brazil in the sale of group pensions.

The Company pays much attention to maintaining its financial strength through conservative management of its business, which has served it well during the recent financial crisis.

The many questions that the audience asked Bill Toppeta were indicative of the great interest that his talk generated. President Jean Verrico and Program Director Carl Barrera thanked Bill for taking time out from his busy schedule to inform us of these developments.

December 2009

Our holiday luncheon was held on December 2 at the Heartland Brewery Restaurant. It was attended by ninety-three members who enjoyed the lunch and the company of friends As a social affair the luncheon provides us the opportunity to enjoy dining and socializing with one another. Do think about attending the next luncheon in December 2010.

Jean Verrico served as roving photographer at the restaurant. The shots she took are included on page 5 of the March 8, 2010 newsletter (page 5). You can access it at this link

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Fall 2009

At the September 2nd meeting of the Retirees Association, former MetLife CEO John Creedon, with his wife Diane Ardouin, and current CEO Rob Henrikson were our guests. It was an enjoyable occasion, very well attended. A video shown of Mr. Creedon's retirement luncheon was delightfully sung to the tune of a Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta. As the photos below indicate, a sizebale group was in attendance.

Carl Barrera, our program director, has written a synopsis of the meeting.

Spring 2009

Kathleen A. Henkel, Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources of MetLife was our featured speaker. Kathy replaced Jim Heston who retired from that position last year. She is responsible for all human resources matters for the Company's 48,000 associates around the world. Kathy started her employment with Met when she was seventeen, beginning as a clerk in the actuarial operations of the Group Department. She is now the officer with the longest employment tenure in the Company.

The Company is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. When it moved to its new Manhattan Building at 1095 Avenue of the Americas (on 42nd Street across from Bryant Park) Met brought with it a number of the large Wyeth painting that used to grace the walls of One Madison Avenue. [Later Kathy said that if the Retiree Association wished, she could arrange a tour for a group of us to see the new office.] Met still had a number of employees at its Long Island City location, but most of those are on the technical staff.

MetLife's strategic objective is to be a recognized leader globally for providing income protection products. Another goal is to grow internationally and through industry consolidation. Kathy reported that the Company had increased its annual revenue by 6% to nearly $8.2 billion at the end of 2008 compared to a year earlier. It has $5 billion in excess capital and a well balanced portfolio. Met declined to take any money from the federal government's Treasury capital purchase program, despite going through the worst recession since the end of World War II. She said that there was still no end in sight to this world wide recession. The cost of the recession to the U.S. so far has exceeded the cost of World War II. She said that the employment market was so bad that Met receives about 500 applications per day when it announces a job opening.

MetLife employees holding stock have also suffered. MetLife stock dropped 72% since January 2008 to March 12th of this year. For 2008, operating earnings were down 87%. Institutional business was up, but International, Individual Business and Auto and Home were all down. Investment earnings were also down because the Company had to keep a large portion of its assets in cash which earns very little. Total assets dropped about $50 billion last year.

Kathy said that at the end of 2008 the tax qualified pension plan was still fully funded, though less so than last year. That was due in part to the Company having contributed $1.9 billion to the pension plans since 2002. She said the plans were well positioned for the long term to provide benefits to the 100,000 people covered by these plans.

The premiums for the medical and dental plans for retirees were held constant for the third year in a row. It was too early to predict how the benefit plans would be priced for 2010.

Summer 2007

The August 13, meeting and luncheon at the Epiphany Church Hall was most enjoyable. Charlie Lynch (formerly of the Law Department), and Fran Smyth (formerly of Information Technology) made interesting presentations.

Charlie is a volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and presented a 20 minute slide show on American Art. The slides reviewed how American Art has treated three main topics, ever since its inception: portraits, landscapes and genre paintings (scenes of everyday life, sometimes nostalgic). Starting with Copley, Cole and Bierstadt, Charlie brought us up to such modern artists as Warhol, Kelly, and Rosenquist. Charlie's slides and commentary was most interesting and enjoyable.

Fran is the Manager of Arts Services at the Arts and Business Council of New York which runs Business Volunteers for the Arts. She explained that her organization matches volunteers with the Cultural Center of the city. Volunteers are needed who can help write grants, or have accounting capabilities or other skills, see this flyer for additional information. If you are interested, please contact Fran at 212-279-5910 ext. 222 or email her FSMYTH@ARTSANDBUSINESS-NY.org, or visit the BVA program on the web at http://www.artsandbusiness-ny.org/volunteerism/bva/.

Spring 2007

A presentation was made on the benefits of obtaining Long Term Care Insurance (LTC) at our April 13, 2007 meeting. The presenters were Gina McCreary, Account Manager at MetLife LTC, Bridgewater, NJ office, and Salvatore Aresco, MetLife retiree, who does presentations for MetLife on LTC insurance.

Simply put, as we advance in age, the chances of our needing additional finances for medical care and assistance with everyday activities increases (i.e., bathing, dressing and cognitive impairments). The average annual cost of home care assistance is over $24,000; for a nursing home it is over $66,000. In the future, the cost of this care is expected to rise.

The insurance is expensive, with premium rates tied into age of the insured at time of policy issue. The phone number for those interested in pursing this insurance is included some of the slides presented at the meeting.

Please note: Prior to the April 13th meeting, Dave Sobel, Director, HR-Global Benefits, provided a response to a query raised by one of our retirees. The question concerned possible increases in Met Life retiree pensions. A PDF version of Dave's response is available here.

Holiday Luncheon 2006

Our holiday luncheon was held on December 6, 2006, at the Heartland Brewery Restaurant on West 43 Street. It was attended by about 125 members who enjoyed lunch and the company of friends. The menu was very different from the La Maganett restaurant where we had our previuos holiday celebrations. Positive comments about the quality of the food at Heartland were made following the luncheon and in thank you notes sent to President Jean Verrico. The seating was different, in that we were more spaced out and some of our groups were seated at adjacent tables. IIt would be good to return to the Heartland Brewery for our next luncheon.

2007 Benefits Changes Discussed at August 2006 Meeting

The August 17, meeting at the Epiphany Church Hall was well attended.

Jim Pabst, (who is in charge of MetLife health benefits for retirees) provided a handout describing the 2007 design changes to the medical benefit program for retirees. We thank Charlie Lynch, formerly of the Law Department, who made the presentation to the members. A copy of the handout is available online.

After the presentation, several members asked the following questions:

How can you purchase Met stock?

MetLife has no plans currently to adopt a direct buy stock program for employees and retirees. If you want to buy MetLife stock, you need to go to a broker, i.e. Charles Schwab.

Who would be the best person to write to for a question about prescriptions?

Questions should be addressed to Express Scripts by phone - 800-315-2589, if you still have questions write to Express Scripts at: 6301 Cecilia Circle, Bloomington, MN 5543, Att: Yvonne Phelps, Team Lead for MetLife. If you still have questions, write to: MetLife Global Benefits Department - ESI, 501 US Hwy 22, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. All correspondence will receive a response.

Define the term PPO.

Preferred Provider Organization

Spring 2006 Meeting Highlights Met Memoriabilia

Our April 21, 2006 meeting provided a spectacular display of MetLife memorabilia. The oldest items were postcards of the MetLife Tower from 1908 and 1911. Other items included a retiree's MetLife medal and pin from the 1920's. There were various editions of the Home Office Magazine/Bulletin.

One of our members brought in a "Baby's First Year" book; it was of her first year. There was a Veteran's 20 year anniversary pin, a T-shirt, a towel, cook books, an inkwell, and a gold trim plate from the Officers dining room, a spoon, a name stamp, a jigsaw puzzle, a Fire Warden's Cap, and many other items. It was fun to see these items, and they brought back many memories.

John DiBiase, who was a member of the Camera Club, donated the first prize gift, a framed photograph of the Tower at sunset. Second prize was a roll of stamps, and then there were four $25 gift certificates to Macys, and everyone else received a sleeve of 20 stamps.

A few days after the meeting, Carl Barrera attended the MetLife annual meeting and made a statement about the 2006 cutback in healthcare benefits of retired employees. Carl made his statement and the response from MetLife officers available to us.

Holiday Luncheon Held December 7th, 2005

Our holiday luncheon was held on December 7, at La Maganett restaurant. It was attended by 156 members who enjoyed lunch and the company of friends.

Special Meeting on Medical Benefits Held October 14th

Jim Pabst, who is in charge of MetLife health benefits for retirees, spoke to the group about the changes taking place for Medicare. Jim's presentation placed special emphasis on the prescription drug benefits available under Medicare. He also previewed the MetLife medical benefits for 2006.

The highlights of Jim's presentation appear below. You may also view the complete PowerPoint presentation that Jim used. To view it, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The MetLife Choices and MetLife Options for 2006 will be sent out in the last week of October/first week of November. Here are some of the highlights Jim mentioned at the meeting:

Health Care Environment

Health care costs continue to escalate, driven mainly by 1) prescription drugs, 2) hospital charges and 3) physician charges.

There are more prescription drugs available, utilization has increased and the prices of drugs continues to escalate. Drugs companies have increased marketing to consumers to encourage them to ask their physicians about the newer drugs and the cost of advertising is absorbed into the pricing of the drugs.

There has been continued consolidation of hospitals. Because this means less competition, insurers do not have as strong a negotiating position as in the past.

Finally, there are more specialist physicians and fees for specialist care are generally twice as expensive as care from a primary care physician. With more people seeking care from specialists, the total spent for medical care increases.

Medicare

Beginning 1/1/2006, Medicare Part D will be available to those who are eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B. Part D provides prescription drug coverage and recipients can chose either a private prescription drug plan -- such as that offered by MetLife as part of our retiree health benefits -- or can opt for another plan. The plan design of the MetLife plan was evaluated by outside actuaries and rated "Medicare credible." This rating is given to plans which are at least as good as Medicare Part D. In fact, the MetLife plan design has been evaluated as much better than Medicare.

In choosing a prescription drug plan, it is important to consider the following factors of plan design:

  • is the plan "Medicare credible"
  • which formulary drugs are covered
  • are generic substitutions allowed
  • is there a mail order drug option
  • what is the total benefit coverage
  • Jim's PowerPoint presentation has a chart outlining the standard Medicare Part D plan. (It is also available on a separate page of this website.) The chart shows how much an individual will pay and how much Medicare pays under Part D, enabling comparisons to the existing drug benefits available under the MetLife plan.

    Here are some of the sources available with information on Medicare changes:

    Websites:

  • www.medicare.gov
  • www.cms.hhs.gov
  • www.aarp.org
  • www.mymetlifebenefitsonline.com
  • Publications

  • Medicare & You 2006 handbook (can be downloaded in PDF format from www.medicare.gov)
  • Facts About Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
  • Phone Numbers

  • 1-800-MEDICARE
  • AARP: 1-888-687-2277
  • Social Security: 1-800-772-1213
  • MetLife Retiree Service Center: 1-800-553-3803

  • MetLife Plan - 2006 Highlights

    Mail Order Drugs

    The mail order drug benefits provider will change from Pharmacare to Express Scripts. There will be a rollover of prior information and open prescription refills will be transferred to Express Scripts in late December 2005. Since the formulary drugs covered by Express Scripts are not exactly the same as Pharmacare, a personalized letter will be sent to each recipient explaining which current Pharmacare formularies are not covered by Express Scripts and the possible substitutions that each person can discuss with his or her doctor.

    Note: Certain drugs will lose patent protection during 2006. The most frequently prescribed ones are listed here.

    Co-pay Changes to the HMO/EPO Plans (only non-Medicare retirees are eligible for these plans)

    Primary care physicians will increase from the current $15 to $20 on HMO plans; co-pay for inpatient hospital services will go to $250 per admission.

    Premiums

    Medicare eligible retirees will see no change in contribution; non-Medicare will see an average increase of 18%. There is one more year (after 2006) of transition to bring the non-Medicare retirees in line with general employee population. The increase will vary based on the plan you are enrolled in, your credit factor and the number of dependents you have in the plan.

    Sibyl Jacobsen Speaks at February 25 Meeting

    Sibyl Jacobsen, Senior Vice-President of Metlife and President of the MetLife Foundation, spoke at the 2/25/05 meeting of the Metropolitan Retirees Association. She discussed the foundation's current giving program, which has been emphasizing two areas: education and healthy aging. Grants in these areas include those designed to improve after-school opportunities for children and funding research on Alzheimer's disease. A more detailed report on Sibyl's presentation detailed has been prepared by Carl Barrera .

    December 2004 Holiday Luncheon

    For those who keep statistics, more than 150 members attended the holiday luncheon. Carl had arranged for Vincent Reusing, formerly Senior Vice President of MetLife and head of the Government Relations Department to speak at our holiday luncheon. Vince is currently a political consultant and lobbyist in Washington D.C. Vince spoke about his role in the strategies used by the Democratic Party in the last presidential election. More details can be found in the synopsis of his talk prepared by Carl.

    July 2004 Meeting

    On July 28, over 200 members attended the summer meeting. Carl Barrera, Law Department retiree, arranged for Jim Heston to speak to the membership. Jim is Sr. Vice President of Human Resources and is in charge of all Human Resources operations in the US and internationally.

    Jim reviewed some of the recent organizational changes at MetLife and discussed the financial strength of the pension plan. He also addressed recent changes in Medicare laws and the cost of health benefits. For more details, please see Carl's synopsis of Mr. Heston’s presentation.

    February 2004 Meeting

    Although the weather was very cold, we still had a large turnout. Carl Barrera, formerly of the Law Department, has been successful in getting speakers to attend our meetings and keep us current with MetLife events. In February, Carl arranged for Lee Launer, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of MetLife to be our guest speaker. Lee spoke about the financial strength of MetLife, its competitors and the changes that have taken place since MetLife became a stock corporation. A synopsis of Lee's talk was written by Carl Barrera and can be accessed on this website.

    December 2003 Meeting

    The holiday luncheon was a success. Among the comments heard were; good food, good service, good folks, great fun.

    Nat Taverna, acting as the official MRA photographer took pictures of the guests at each table. The pictures can be seen on the "MyFamily" web site. We will have a copy of the photos at the February meeting.

    You may order a copy of the photo of the table at which you were seated. However, if you changed your seating arrangement, please let us know with whom you sat. To receive a copy, please send a dollar for each photo selected to Diane Schwab this will cover the cost of duplication, and mailing. (Please do not send an envelope or stamp.)

    July 2003 Meeting

    More than 100 members attended the July 30, 2003 MRA luncheon at the Epiphany Church Hall. It was a pleasant afternoon at which we were able to visit with friends and enjoy lunch . Carl Barrera who retired from the Law Department reported on MetLife's Annual Share Holder's Meeting. For the details, see Carl's report elsewhere on this web site.