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Getting in SHIP-shape will cover out-of-pocket costs

New York Teacher
Hands handling money

For $120 a year, UFT retirees who are members of the Retired Teachers Chapter can obtain supplemental benefits that reimburse them for some out-of-pocket expenses, including ambulance rides, dental work, hearing aids and private-duty nursing.

To obtain the special package of 15 benefits, which the RTC developed more than 40 years ago, members must enroll in the Supplemental Health Insurance Program (SHIP) within one year of retiring. There is no requirement for a medical exam to join. The maximum lifetime benefit for any SHIP participant is $100,000.

Enrollment in the program continues to increase. It currently covers 89,987 UFT retirees and spouses, who are eligible for the same benefits for the same fee. SHIP processed 20,547 claims in 2023.

“The UFT’s health care, social services and Si Beagle Learning Center programs for retirees are like stars in the firmament of earned benefits,” said Tom Murphy, the RTC chapter leader. “SHIP shines brightly for both its value and its expedited payment process.”

To be eligible, retirees must be RTC members, receive a pension check and have a primary health plan that covers prescription drugs. If they are covered by Medicare, they must be enrolled in Part A (hospital), as well as Part B (medical), or have comparable medical coverage.

Members enrolled in SHIP pay $10 a month through a pension deduction or $20 monthly if coverage is for a member and a spouse. Those who prefer to pay annually via check are charged a $30 administrative fee.

SHIP covers out-of-pocket costs for:

  • Ambulance, ambulette and wheelchair-accessible vehicle transport.
  • Dental services.
  • Hearing aids.
  • In-hospital private-duty nursing.
  • At-home nurse’s aide or home health attendant.
  • Orthopedic shoes/orthotic inserts.
  • Surgical stockings, sleeves and/or compression wraps.
  • Anesthesia/surgery.
  • Blood bank.
  • Hospital deductibles.
  • Hairpiece, wig and cold cap therapy.
  • Emergency alert system.
  • Prescription drugs.
  • Psychiatric hospitalization.
  • Survivor benefit (SHIP’s COBRA premium coverage).

In January 2022, SHIP increased some of its reimbursement amounts. The annual reimbursement maximum for dental benefits increased from $300 to $400. The lifetime maximum benefits for orthopedic shoes/orthotics and surgical or compression stockings rose from $2,000 to $3,000. SHIP reimburses up to $300 a year for out-of-pocket expenses for orthotics. Members can receive annual reimbursements of up to $200 for compression stockings over 15 years.

SHIP reimbursements are available only after the city’s regular health insurance providers have paid their benefits. There is an exception for the catastrophic major medical plan sponsored by the New York State United Teachers, the UFT’s state affiliate, which is secondary to and paid after SHIP.

SHIP is a self-funded program run by a seven-member board of trustees made up of three members of the RTC Executive Board and four members of the UFT Executive Board. Patricia Rojas is the executive director of SHIP.

The program is separate from members’ primary health plan, so you must notify the program directly of any changes, such as a new address, a divorce or a death.

Read more information about SHIP, including a booklet about the program and claim forms, or contact the office between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays at 212-228-9060.

Related Topics: Retired Teachers