“It's been hell,” says John Plodinec, Chair of the SRS Retirees Association.
“It's very difficult,” says Jerry King, who worked at SRS for 27 years. “You're almost lost, you keep throwing up your hands and saying good gosh, this should not be this difficult.”
What's so hard? Healthcare. The new SRS healthcare plan that affects nearly 2,000 retirees and their families is almost entirely online.
“Many of them have just been completely bamfoozled,” says Plodinec.
That's because the SRS Retirees Association says nearly 40 percent of their members don't have a computer, and 20 percent don't even have an email address.
“Many of these people still have rotary phones,” Plodinec says.
And these are serious stakes.
“That's important because it's your life,” says King.
“When you hear the stories of getting rejected time and time again, it rips your heart out to think people in this day and age can't get the help they need,” Plodinec says.
Jerry King is lucky in that he is somewhat savvy: His son bought him a smart phone and he navigates the app. That's critical because even you have a computer and know how to use it, it may not cut it.
“If you have an old computer that doesn't react quick and it won't download the apps,” he says.
For him it hits a little too close to home: He submitted payments and thought to call and check. Turns out it didn't go through–had he had an accident, there could have been trouble:
“It's scary. You think you have something, but due to some computer glitch it wasn't handled, it would have been catastrophic.”
And in case you're thinking retirees should call and check.
“They say we'll send you an email,” King says.
The SRS retirees association works to help retirees help one another, but they say that's not enough. They say people need the option of getting back to the basics:
“Let's get better off-life systems,” Plodinec says, “let's get all the gobbly gook out of it.”
And this problem extends far beyond the site–from retirees of other corporations to natural disaster victims who don't know how to file with FEMA.”