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No, Ohio's public employee retirement system is not discontinuing its health benefits, but there are some changes

Beginning January 2022, OPERS is moving to a reimbursement model.

Some significant changes regarding health care assistance will take effect in a few months for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

We recently got a question from a viewer about this – who is wondering if health benefits are going away altogether.

THE QUESTION:

Faye Haynes, a viewer asked: "Is it true that Ohio Public Employees Retirement System plans to discontinue health benefits to retirees?"

THE SOURCE:

  • Tonya Brown, OPERS Director of Member Operations

THE ANSWER:

No.

WHAT WE FOUND:

Beginning January 2022 they are moving to a reimbursement model called a Health Reimbursement Arrangement.

"The way this works is the participant will pay upfront for premiums and other qualified expenses that they can then be reimbursed with from their allowance. We will deposit that allowance each month, into their HRA account,” said Brown.

This was a major change the OPERS board approved in 2020.

The reason is because The Health Care Fund, left unchanged, risked being insolvent by 2030 and it would take four years to fund it again.

According to OPERS' website: "It has become increasingly expensive to offer this coverage, as costs have risen at alarming rates nationally. Further, we have more people retiring now and fewer public workers contributing to the system."

“OPERS is not discontinuing our health care program,” said Brown. “We are changing our delivery model for our pre-Medicare retirees."

We can verify, no, the health care program is not being discontinued.

But, the burden is shifting and the funding help is shrinking.

Brown said the biggest thing pre-Medicare retirees need to do during open enrollment is to opt-in to the HRA program.

“After they do that they can then explore new medical plans by contacting VIA benefits which is our pre-Medicare connector. The connector is an unbiased resource that would help the retirees understand different funding options, how to navigate the individual and family market, and then also enroll into a new plan.”

To help with the transition, OPERS is providing a one-time deposit of $1,200 into the new HRA accounts.

This change directly impacts more than 22,000 pre-Medicare retirees and potentially their dependents of more than 200,000 retirees.

Wednesday morning, OPERS is offering an hour-long Q&A session for anyone with questions about this.

Have something you’d like us to verify? Send an e-mail to verify@10TV.com.