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StarBulletin.com

Insurance verification uses Social Security info


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

QUESTION: I am a state retiree who recently received a verification form from Secova, a company doing a “;Dependent Verification Eligibility”; check for EUTF (Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund). The form asks for my dependent's name (already filled out) and whether we are legally married and if the dependent is eligible for coverage. The part that bothers me is printing my dependent's Social Security number. I have tried to contact EUTF by phone, but they seem to be swamped and still have not returned my call. Do you have information on this?

ANSWER: Not to worry, said the administrator of the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

Administrator Jim Williams said to just look “;on the letter that I signed,”; which explains what's happening and gives a Web site for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services where members can go to for information.

“;It's a federal requirement that we collect Social Security numbers of dependents. ... We're using this project as a good opportunity to do that,”; he said.

QUESTION: I'm taking a trip to the mainland for the holidays and would like to take some Hawaiian food with me. I'm going to hand-carry it on board. Do they allow blue ice to be hand-carried on the plane? If not, how do I keep the food frozen until I get to my destination?

ANSWER: According to the Transportation Security Administration, airline passengers can take regular ice, gel packs and dry ice to keep items cool either as carry-ons or in their checked baggage.

However, the agency allows regular ice and gel packs in carry-on luggage only for cooling medically related items or baby food.

And, for that, only “;reasonable amounts”; are allowed, based on the itinerary and length of travel, determined at the security checkpoint.

You can use dry ice to carry your frozen food on board. But if so, the packaging must permit the release of carbon dioxide gas; in other words, the packaging must be vented.

Furthermore, the Federal Aviation Administration limits 4.4 pounds of dry ice to be carried on board or up to 5 pounds in checked baggage.

Either way, the FAA requires each package be marked “;dry ice”; or “;carbon dioxide solid”; and that each package be marked with the net weight of the dry ice or indicate the amount is 4.4 pounds or less.

For checked baggage, there are no restrictions on regular ice and gel packs, although the Transportation Security Administration recommends transporting regular ice in a cooler.

The agency recommends travelers contact the airlines to find out about any additional guidelines they might have regarding regular ice or dry ice. You could be charged a hazardous handling fee.

For more information about travel restrictions, go to http://www.tsa.gov.

QUESTION: What does TV mean when they say “;characters welcome”;? What in the world are they saying to us?

ANSWER: We assume you are referring to USA Network's “;Characters Welcome”; slogan, adopted in 2005, promoting its original network “;characters.”;

Network officials said it is a “;branding initiative,”; meant to convey what the network and its programs are all about.

As part of this, the cable TV network launched last March the Character Project, “;an ongoing artistic initiative to celebrate the extraordinary people, from all walks of life, who make this country unique.”;