Many retirees received a letter Monday saying they had until Friday to make a decision.
If they didn't respond by the deadline, the letter threatens in bold red letters: "your supplemental coverage will end
But city spokeswoman
"No one will be held to that initial deadline," she said Wednesday.
The letter alarmed retirees, with many being irked by the short deadline given to make a decision.
"Four days is not enough time to look at my options and decide," said
Some retirees living out of state hadn't even gotten the letter Monday, he noted.
He said the city should have at least provided 30 days.
Lassiter said he received several panicked calls from members, especially the elderly, who were confused by the letter.
To make matters worse, many retirees reported that they encountered a busy signal or a full voicemail when they called the number provided to ask questions.
The letter provides two boxes that retirees can check. One indicates they are no longer interested in receiving the supplemental benefit, while the other says they are and asks the city to send enrollment information.
Lassister called the letter poorly worded.
"I'd like to know who OK'd that letter to go out as it was written," he said.
Going forward, retirees will be required to pay
The retiree plan now mirrors the one offered to current workers and require spouses who are eligible for health care elsewhere to take it, in most cases, or pay a surcharge.
It also ends the benefit for any workers hired after
The supplemental health benefit -- originally designed to be a secondary insurance -- is provided to more than 2,400 retirees now, and is extended to an additional 1,648 dependents. The administration has said that the city could not continue to offer it for free.
Officials have estimated the current cost at
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