4.033 tech, meeting

Tuesday 01/03/2023

Didn’t do much today. Except, first thing, I called the United Healthcare/IBM insurance customer service line and started the process of paying my premium by direct EFT. They were super helpful and nice.

A week ago I had received a mysterious debit card from Optum Bank, which I’d never heard of. It was accompanied by a double-sided sheet filled with 8-point type legalese, but if you looked long enough you might see the acronym HRA. Nothing about IBM or insurance or benefits, but it did mention HRA, which I knew to be part of IBM’s retiree benefits, a Health Resources Account (or Allocation?).

The UHC/IBM lady couldn’t help with info about it, however, but offered to transfer me to the customer service at Optum bank. So I was on hold to them for ten minutes and the call dropped.

Called the bank line directly; robot cheerfully says “The time to the next customer service person is, One, Two, Six minutes” but it offered to call back. It did call back after not quite an hour and after another ten minute wait, I got to talk to a person. Yes the card is for my IBM HRA. Its current balance is $500. What can I do with it? I can use the debit card to pay for authorized medical expenses. Could I just cash it out as money? No, it has to be spent in paying for authorized medical expenses.

But, the Optum person gave me a key piece of info, the URL ibm.optum.com. This turns out to be a lovely simple little web page where you can type in keywords about any kind of expense, and it will tell you if that is authorized for purchase using the HRA card. I tried all the expenses I could think of and most were authorized. However most are also covered by the UHC/IBM policy already. So I will have a problem finding anything that I can actually buy with my Optum debit card. In fact, if I find such a thing, it will be because I have a health problem that the insurance doesn’t cover, in which case, $500 probably won’t go very far. Oh well.

Took a tech squad call to help someone with problems with Photos and Mail on a Mac. Sat through the writers meeting contributing nothing. Signed up for two CHM activities later in the week. Idled away the rest of the afternoon.

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