Tool forecasts pension benefits, health care costs

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has released the Retirement Planner, its latest tool to help members prepare for retirement.

The planner, accessible from our website, permits members closest to retirement in OPERS’ traditional pension plan to estimate pension benefits and health care costs at different retirement dates.

Because of upcoming changes to the OPERS retiree health care plan, the tool could prove invaluable in helping these members, who are eligible to retire within the next four years, pinpoint the ideal time frame for retirement.

By using the OPERS Retirement Planner, these “transition Group A” members can compare their working income with their retirement income, determine the impact of working longer, or forecast their employer and retiree health care costs. It’s the first time that we’ve offered a comprehensive planning tool combining both pension and health care information.

The planner’s release is timely because of changes to OPERS health care coverage that will go into effect at the beginning of 2015. They include:

  • New eligibility rules: The new program will require members to have at least 20 years of qualifying service and be at least 60 years of age to qualify for health care, or have 30 years of qualifying service time at any age. This means that members will have only until the end of November to decide whether to retire under the current eligibility requirement of 10 years of service time.
  • Allowance reduction: The new health care plan will base the premium allowance given to participants on age and service. There will be a three-year transition, but all members will be subject to the new allowance tables by 2018.

We encourage all of our members to visit our website over the next several months for additional retirement information, tools and resources. Transition group membership can be determined by using this chart.

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20 Responses to Tool forecasts pension benefits, health care costs

  1. S K says:

    Shame this ‘tool’ wasn’t available years ago, before OPERS decided to throw current retirees under the bus by not grandfathering them with all the additional costs (and loss of coverages) due to the health care changes. This is the part that OPERS doesn’t seem to understand: current retirees have absolutely no way to ‘delay’ retirement to get more money, etc. to cover all the additional health care expenses. We would have done things so differently if we had known, OPERS has no idea the undue stress this is causing on those of us who thought OPERS would ‘take care’ of its members who retired with 30+ years of dedicated service.

    • JA says:

      I didn’t have 30, only 20.9. But you can bet your boots I would have done things differently. I would have stayed for the 30.

      Those 10+ years that I had worked and earned Social Security? Well, I had that money reduced by 2/3!! Lose, lose, lose for me. Didn’t do anything right. Take care.

    • Jim says:

      Many of the retirees I know feel exactly the same way you feel.

    • Retiree says:

      I agree with Sk, we have been let down. They should have grandfathered the retirees with 30 plus years who already retired. Changes should have only been made going forward for members who can work longer. I use to be proud of Opers. Now, I know their poor choices have made a sacrifice to all of us who are retired.

      • Michael Pramik says:

        Retiree,

        Remember that current retirees were not affected at all by the pension plan redesign.

        –Ohio PERS

        • Mike C. says:

          It was never just the pension plan. It was the whole retirement package. It was for our family. As an Ohioan, the changes feel foreign and very ‘wall street’. We are better than that.

        • dave rankin says:

          Its the upcoming OPERS health care costs for our [non working] spouses that is going to hurt. OPERS single retirees or OPERS married retirees with working spouses that have health insurance are not nearly affected. More than likely single retirees and married retirees [that have working spouses with health insurance] are also better off financially.I do not mind paying part of my spouses health care cost but to pay 100%. And to change the rules in the fourth quarter with 2 minutes in the game? Seems unfair.

          • Retiree says:

            Here is an example of not being grandfathered in for healthcare for our older spouses. My husband is 62, had a great job for the last 10 years. His company went into receivership and he has been laid off for a few months. It’s been very hard for him to find a good job in his field at his age. In the year 2016, I will pay higher insurance for him when he is 64, and turning 65 at the end of December. While I’m lucky to still have spouse health insurance at that point, others will have to pay a lot more if their spouses are not going to be 65 until 2017, 2018, or when it’s entirely eliminated. What are they going to do if they don’t have jobs with good insurance? It’s hard to make up that salary at a older age. We also signed up for a lower pension to include healthcare. Opers should have thought of this before taking this away for current retiree spouses, poor choice on their part. We have saved all our life and continue as much as we can, but so much for OPERS caring about current retirees. More thought should have played into this before changes were made. There are too many of us in the same boat about to sink!

  2. WillyH says:

    The forecasting tool seems to be worthwhile, but I am confused with how or what it is calculating with regard to the healthcare portion. I am 58 and have 37+ yrs of contributing service for both pension and health care. When I put this info in the health care entry screen it appears to calculate my insurance premium if I retire will be $800+ per month. None of the other PERS documentation has ever indicated that I will be req’d to pay the full boat premium. Did I enter some aspect of my info incorrectly, am I misinterpreting something about the numbers the tool provides or is there glitch in the tool?
    In addition it would be good to have a clarification what PERS means when they say “retire in March”. Is that retired as of March 1 or March 31? This minor confusion exists in more than one app PERS uses. In the retirement calculator behind my password the issue is cleared up later (after all the data entry), but I have had to go back and change my initial data many times because the PERS meaning of “retire in March” is not intuitive (to me, at least).

    Thanks and keep up the good work. While I have not been overjoyed at some of the decisions that had to be made over the years (primarily because politicians would not make requested changes back in 2009 IMO), I have been impressed with PERS actions to try to be compsassionate and fair (and I am one whose spouse will lose insurance coverage in the coming years) and especially to keep us up to date with clear and regular updates via multiple channels. I’ve never talked with or met Michael Pramik, but he deserves a pat on the back along the many people who professionally safeguard these funds. From the account people we talk to up through the legislative liasons to the executive director and Board, I beleive all are doing the absolute best they can upholding their fiduciary duties. Thank you all.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Willy,

      Try it again, making sure to carefully enter the correct information. We tried it here for a member retiring in 2014 with 37 years of contributing service at age 58, and it indicated premiums in the $100/month range.

      –Ohio PERS

      • Spain says:

        I saw something similar on one run. I believe that it results from entering a decimal, such as 35.25, in the second box where it is requested, but I haven’t thoroughly gamed it out.

      • Willy H says:

        Looks as if entering anything other than whole numbers for years of service on the insurance entry throws the insurance up to $900+ per month. If I use 37 or 38 years service it comes out OK. If I use 37.5, etc., it goes to $900 per month. Site will accept decimal portion of a year, but does not appear round or truncate to a whole number. Using Apple Safari vs. IE or Chrome, etc.

        Thanks

        • Michael Pramik says:

          Willy,

          Use whole numbers. We don’t use fractions of years in the formula that determines your pension benefit.

          –Ohio PERS

  3. Jeff says:

    Is there a way to calculate how much health care will cost me? I retired at the end of 2012 but I am not collecting health insurance yet as I am covered on my wife’s plan. I will be 52 in March.

  4. Martha Filipic says:

    I’m planning to retire in early 2017 with 30 years of service at age 56. When I start inputting that information into the tool, I get a red alert saying “We did not have carrier cost for the given estimated date.” Does this mean I cannot use the tool yet? Could someone at least tell me what the premiums currently are for new 56-year-old retirees with 30 years of service, along with a list of changes taking effect in coming years, so I could at least get a ballpark estimate?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Martha,

      That message only comes up for people using our Health Care Calculator, available through one’s online account. And, it comes up only if you try to estimate your health care beyond 2014 since that tool is customized for those members planning to retire this year.

      If you use the Retirement Planner, available on the home page of http://www.opers.org, you should be able to receive the information you seek.

      –Ohio PERS

  5. DR says:

    I am planning on retiring with 30 years of service credit 24.8 towards healthcare credit. Would it be beneficial to stay 2-3 more months to have 25 years towards healthcare or doesn’t that make any difference?

    Thank you.

  6. I have a hard time believing this tool. I am near retirement, in good health, don’t take any drugs at all so how can I suddenly have a huge Rx bill in retirement?

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