Why January benefit amounts are different

Health care changes, COLA increase can affect your monthly pension benefit

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System issues benefit change notices when our retirees’ pension amounts change. These notices were sent to most retirees in late December for changes reflected in their January benefits.

The most-common reasons benefit amounts are different:

  • The Medicare B reimbursement ended in 2016, and most Medicare-age retirees see a reduction of $31.81 for January.
  • Health Care premiums for spouses increased because of an increase in the percentage of the premium the retiree now pays. In 2018, the retiree will pay the entire premium and therefore will see another increase in cost.

Other reasons a change may occur:

  • A cost of living adjustment has been made to the account; they are applied annually on the anniversary of the month you retired.
  • Changes to federal tax tables could alter the amount of your federal taxes withheld. These changes are most often seen in February of each year.

If you have questions about your tax withholding, we suggest you see a tax adviser. Remember that you are able to change your tax withholding at any time through your online account.

We have prepared a video that explains benefit change notices. You can find the video on our Got Mail? Get Answers website page.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

  • Health Care premiums for spouses increased because of an increase in the percentage of the premium the retiree now pays. In 2018, the retiree will pay the entire premium and therefore will see another increase in cost……QUESTION: The increase in the spouse insurance was a HUGE SHOCK for 2017.
    We NEVER dreamed that the insurance would be that expensive and is going to be difficult paying that premium each month, with that being said can you tell me what additional expense we might incur for 2018 since the spouse ‘assistance’ will end in Jan 2018?

    • Retirees are also transitioning to their ending allowance by 2018, and as a result there could be increased premiums for retirees enrolled in our group plan. Other than that, OPERS will determine 2018 plan design changes this summer and will communicate any changes in our August retiree newsletter.

      Thanks,
      OPERS

    • ny husband and I are on medicare and we are paying 24$ a amonth for medi-gold so why are we paying 31,81$ for insurance also

      • Medicare Parts A and B are part of the requirements for securing a medical/pharmacy plan through the OPERS Medicare Connector. By enrolling in a plan(s) through the Connector, an HRA is established. These Medicare Parts are separate from your medical premiums(the $31.81 you reference is your Medicare Part B premium). You can use your HRA funds toward Medicare premiums. If you have further questions, please visit opers.org or contact OPERS at 1-800-222-7377.

        Thanks,
        OPERS

    • Great question. We just received confirmation from OneExchange that the annual allowance of $300 has loaded into retiree accounts, and should be visible.

      Thanks,
      OPERS

  • It would be nice to have the benefit statement as an accepted piece of documentation for HRA reimbursements through OE since it lists what is automatically deducted for dental and vision premiums. It is something you send anyway and we would not have to request premium receipts be sent separately.

    • Thank you for your comment. If you are speaking to the Benefit Change Notice, typically only retirees who have a change in their pension deduction amount receive these. However, because vision and dental premiums changed for 2017, all participants enrolled in the vision and/or dental plan(s) received a benefit change notice for January.

      In future years, if premiums stay same and there are no other changes in pension amount, a retiree would not receive a Benefit Change Notice.

      Thanks,
      OPERS

      • When were the Benefit change notices mailed out ? My husband and I are both PERS retirees and neither of us have received a notice of benefit change for 2017.

        • Wonderful question. If you are referring to your January Benefit Change Notice, you should have received that by now as they were mailed at the end of December 2016. February Benefit Change Notices are mailing this week. Please know that you also have access to this information through your online account. If you do not have an online account, please visit opers.org to set one up. In the future, should you request a statement mid-month, you can also call OPERS (1-800-222-377) and one can be mailed to you.

          Thanks,
          OPERS

      • Since we have to reapply for benefit reimbursement, we are required to submit copies of the OPERS statement each year for dental or vision premiums. Please continue to provide the statement. Another plan would be for OPERS to submit to ONE EXCHANGE directly this fact for all retirees who choose the benefits.

  • Clarify pls spousal benefits for 2017 on.

    Do spousal benefits eventually end? If not, If my husband dies before me (he is the retiree) am I still covered for health insurance for life?

    What about in home nursing care for either/both of us? Is that covered in the benefits?

    • We have more information about spousal benefits fitting different scenarios online. If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to call OPERS (800-222-7377), this will ensure you get your specific questions answered as it would pertain to your family situation. Long term care is no longer offered as part of our benefits.

      -OPERS

  • I printed my tax form 1095-B
    You have my husband down that he had been covered for the year 2016. He was not and he has the
    form from his insurance stating he had covered insurance through them.
    Do I need a new form 1095-B from OPERS leaving his name off of it for Tax purposes?

    • The $300 annual deposit was deposited into your account earlier this month and your monthly deposit would have been as well. If you have questions concerning your HRA, please reach out to OneExchange at 1-844-287-9945.

      Thank you,
      OPERS

  • Although filling out reimbursement requests is burdensome and balancing my checking account has become a tad of a chore, I really appreciate that OPERS has created the HRA account. I doubt that it was mandated and although I know that the monthly amount deposited will dwindle each year, being reimbursed for so much of my medical expenses is quite a gift. Thank you.

    • I also appreciate the HRA account. Very helpful, however, why does it take so long to get the reimbursement. My last claim was sent in January 10, 2017. As of January 24 no reimbursement was received. In calling I was told they hadn’t received it, however, I should call back in a few days and they’ll see if they can find it. This was a large claim due to full year prescription report, etc. It was sent by US mail and costly!! I’m hoping they find it.

      Also, two months ago two of my claims were returned. In looking into this I found their office had moved to Texas. Supposedly we were all to get letter regarding this, however, I have talked to many retires who, like me, received nothing.

      ONE BIG IMPROVEMENT — this week was the first time I didn’t get put on hold for a long period of time. Hopefully service has improved and will continue!!

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts. There are a couple of moving parts between our retirees, the medical/pharmacy carrier, OneExchange and our retirees’ financial institution.

        The turnaround time for reimbursements will vary by the method reimbursement is being requested. The Automatic Reimbursement feature will have a 4-6 week turnaround time from the time the premium payment is made. When faxing in a manual claim, the documentation can take up to 48 hours to be scanned and loaded into the system. Thereafter, the turnaround time is 3-5 business days to process and approval. Also, we must take into consideration of when the Benefit Recipient’s financial institution will release the funds to the account after OneExchange has transferred payment, as this may take up to 72 hours depending on the financial institution.

        Please don’t hesitate to call OneExchange if you have any questions regarding your reimbursements (1-844-287-9945).

        Thank you,
        OPERS

        • So — why has my claim mailed by US mail not been processed when it was mailed on January 10. Today is January 28. Some of us do not have fax service in our homes and paying for it is expensive.

          • Because your question is specific to your situation, please call OneExchange (1-844-287-9945) and a representative will be able to better assist you.

            Thanks,
            OPERS

    • Edward,

      It is important to understand how the Cadillac Tax does – and does not – impact our health care plans. For those over 65 and on Medicare, changes to federal law would generally not impact our Connector model, assuming that no major changes are made to the competitive Medicare marketplace. Our offerings for those under 65 are impacted by the Cadillac Tax. No one is sure yet what changes will be made to the Affordable Care Act or when those changes will go into effect. Right now, there is not a robust open market for this segment of our population, although we would hope that one develops.

      Julie, Ohio PERS

  • I am a retiree of OPERS my questions are, once the spousal reimbursement end December 2017, will the reimbursement for the retiree increase? Will Retirees of OPERS continue to receive a reimbursement allowance?

    • Thank you for your comment. Once the spousal HRA reimbursement ends in 2017, the reimbursement for the retiree will not increase.

      2017 is the second year of the health care allowance transition until the ending allowance is realized by 2018. Retirees will continue to receive an allowance beyond 2018, while spouses’ allowance will become zero as of Jan 2018.

      Thank you,
      OPERS

    • William,

      The Medicare Part B premium, which covers outpatient medical services, is something most retirees on Medicare have to pay. When we looked at making changes in 2012 to preserve our health care plan, our research showed that only 1 percent of employers and retirement systems provided reimbursement for that premium. The cost to OPERS was $110 million a year for the reimbursement program.

      Our retirees on the Connector can use money in their Health Reimbursement Arrangement accounts to be reimbursed for that premium.

  • I read the entire article & it is good but I would like that info. printed and mailed to me. Can that be done ? I will ask my dtr. who I live with if she can print it from the cmpt.

    • The information is available through your online account. If you do not have an online account, you can set one up at opers.org; or if you prefer, give OPERS a call (1-800-222-7377) and request a copy be mailed to your address.

      Thank you,
      OPERS

  • Will the December, 2017 “Available Balance” amount in One Exchange be carried forward to 2018, or do we have to spend it before December 31, 2017?

    • If you are referring to the balance remaining in your HRA account, the balance rolls over month to month and year to year.

      Thanks,
      OPERS

  • I am a retired o.d.o.t. employee but I now live in China my online account is not working your phone number is not working can I get a number that I can call from China.

    • Carver,

      If you reside or are traveling outside of the United States, you can contact 614-222-5684. This number routes to our regular toll free number, 1-800-222-7377, and the same Member Services staff. Member Services is available Monday through Friday, from 8am – 4:30pm, EST.

      Please keep in mind that anyone can call the 614-222-5684 to reach Member Services, but long distance or international charges may apply. We do offer a Virtual Hold option if wait times exceed 2 minutes, but this technology requires a 10 digit phone number for a call back, so if you have an international phone number this won’t be an option. The shortest wait times are often between 8am – 9am EST, so if you are calling internationally, we encourage you to try at this time.

      Thanks,

      Julie, Ohio PERS

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