This month: Learn about HRA deposits for 2024, investment info and more
By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System
June 29, 2023 – Members and retirees often ask us questions through our social media channels that others could benefit from. Periodically we post these questions and answers in our PERSpective blog.
This month we’re addressing questions about HRA deposits and the claim process, how to find investment information on the OPERS website, and how service credit works for OPERS law enforcement members.
Q: I have a Health Reimbursement Arrangement for my health care. Will my HRA deposit amounts be changing in 2024?
A: No. HRA deposits will remain unchanged for 2024. As a reminder, OPERS funds the HRA for eligible benefit recipients. Administered by Via Benefits, the HRA is an account that provides tax-free reimbursement for qualified medical expenses such as monthly post-tax insurance premiums, deductibles, co-insurance and copays incurred by eligible benefit recipients and their dependents.
OPERS funds HRAs with a monthly deposit. The amount of the deposit is a percentage of a base allowance amount. The amount of the deposit is determined by your years of qualified health care service credit as of your retirement effective date, and your age when you first become eligible for the HRA.
For Pre-Medicare benefit recipients the base allowance is $1,200 per month, and for Medicare recipients the base allowance is $350 per month. Allowance percentages range from 51 percent to 90 percent of the applicable base allowance.
Your individual monthly HRA deposit amount is provided on your annual Open Enrollment statement. If you’re a new benefit recipient, the amount will be provided in your health care confirmation letter.
Q: I am interested in reading the investment policy established by the Board of Trustees. Can that policy be made available to retirees?
A: All of our investment policies, as well as the current investment plan, are posted on our website. OPERS Investment Division management and staff create the annual investment plan, which defines the division’s yearly goals. The OPERS Board approves the target asset allocation for both the Defined Benefit Fund and the Health Care Fund.
Q: I’m a member of OPERS, in the law enforcement division. What types of service credit are available to members like me?
A: While purchased service can be used in the calculation of regular OPERS benefits under the Traditional Pension Plan and the defined benefit portion of the Combined Plan, only certain types of service credit may be used in the calculation of a law enforcement benefit under the Traditional Pension Plan.
The service credit used for calculating a benefit for law enforcement and public safety officers can include up to four years of free military service and up to five years of purchased military service. Members also may purchase full-time, out-of-state or federal law enforcement service. However it may not be used in the calculation of a law enforcement or public safety officer’s benefit. Purchased or transferred service credit earned as a police or highway patrol officer in Ohio can be included in a benefit provided the credit is not being used to qualify for another pension.
Q: I’ve noticed that one of my HRA refund claims has been put on hold. What does that mean, and why did it happen?
A: Most times when an HRA reimbursement is put on hold it’s because the retiree’s HRA balance for the month has been exhausted. There aren’t funds available to pay the claim until the next monthly deposit is received.
Retirees will receive the following message when they submit an online claim but do not have enough money in their HRA to be reimbursed:
Any amount that exceeds the balance in the HRA will show in the Via Benefits online account Dashboard as “Payments on Hold.” Payments on Hold are grouped by the expense year. Via Benefits will send reimbursements as soon as the funds are available, paying the oldest claim first.