OPERS to make extra deposit in Connector HRAs

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System will reimburse qualified medical expenses incurred through the OPERS Medicare Connector beginning in January. In order to make the transition flow more smoothly, OPERS will furnish enrolled retirees with an additional $300 deposit to these accounts once annually for the next three years.

The additional deposit means that retired OPERS members participating in the Connector will have more money in their accounts to cover out-of-pocket expenses that they’ll incur as they transition to their new health care plans and as new reimbursement arrangements are established.

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Cost of switching to DC plans can be high

Switching from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan can be a costly proposition for a retirement system, a study indicates.

The National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems stated last month that defined contribution pension plans are at least 20 percent less efficient in delivering benefits. In its research paper entitled, “What is the Cost of Transitioning from a DB Plan to a DC Plan,” NCPERS lists a myriad of factors that states and plan sponsors need to consider when considering such a change.

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Know guaranteed issue rules when choosing a plan

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System is turning to the OPERS Medicare Connector beginning in January to provide health care coverage for eligible members 65 and older. One of the questions we see often is about “guaranteed issue” – can you be denied coverage at any time?

Guaranteed issue is a policy offered to eligible applicants without regard to health status. When we shut down our over-65 group plan and switch to the Connector, guaranteed issue is in place so that no members can be denied coverage, as long as they enroll during the open enrollment period from October through December this year.

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Database provides details on public pension plans

Data collected on public pension systems indicate defined benefit plans are a powerful economic force in the United States, with $3.65 trillion in assets as of mid-2013.

A website called Public Plans Data contains this and other detailed information on state and local pension and retiree health plans, and selected financial information on plan sponsors. It offers statistics from 2001-13 on more than 150 state and local pension plans, with more than 100 variables.

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Former OPERS Board of Trustees member dies

Former OPERS Trustee Sharon Downs, who represented the system’s retirees for 15 years, died April 19 following a battle with cancer.

Many OPERS trustees, stakeholders and associates had the pleasure of working with Sharon during her tenure as an elected retiree representative, which lasted from 1999-2014. As a former human resources administrator for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, she also attended many meetings on behalf of that department.

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New health care rules for re-employed retirees

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has approved changes to health care coverage for re-employed retirees, and the new rules will go into effect in 2016.

The changes are in response to federal health care regulations that affect OPERS members who go back to work for an OPERS-covered employer after they’ve retired. The regulations limit plan benefit values. They also provide that an HRA is insufficient coverage for an individual defined as an employee and would penalize OPERS if we provided coverage to re-employed retirees through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement.

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OPERS releases April health care video

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has released the latest monthly health care chat with OPERS Health Care Director Marianne Steger.

In the April video, Steger addresses member questions related to OPERS Medicare Connector reimbursements, the attained-age model, surviving spouses and other issues.

You can click here to access the video, which we’ve posted on our YouTube channel.

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Annual plan charts OPERS’ investment course

Each year the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System creates a new annual investment plan that discusses goals and the methods by which we may achieve them.

The 2015 OPERS Annual Investment Plan is available on our website. In this video, OPERS Interim Chief Investment Officer Rick Shafer and OPERS Trustee Bob Smith discuss the plan and the path that the system’s future investments might take.

You can also find the video on our YouTube channel.

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OPERS making changes to DC plans

While the primary retirement plan for members of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System is a defined benefit pension, OPERS also offers two defined contribution-style plans.

OPERS has operated the Member-Directed and Combined plans since 2003. After a recent review of the pension and health care structures of the plans, we uncovered several operational and financial issues that needed to be addressed. Thus, we’re announcing several adjustments to the Member-Directed and Combined plans that we’ll phase in over the next nine months.

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OPERS offers 12-step retirement checklist

Planning for retirement takes a lot of preparation, and it’s important to get started early. The Learn Plan Act section of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System’s website is designed to simplify the process for those preparing to retire.

Our planning checklist provides a dozen tips on what you’ll need to do when you’re preparing to retire.

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