Changes upcoming to HRAs

Via Benefits to improve reimbursement process, customer interface

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Aug.  20, 2019 – The OPERS Medicare Connector provides health care payments to participants through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement. OPERS reminds all participants that the Connector is transitioning its HRA administrator from PayFlex to Via Benefits, which oversees the insurance plan for those over 65.

That means, until the transition is complete on Sept. 3, Connector participants will be unable to access their HRA accounts or details in their Via Benefits online accounts. There also might be a delay in reimbursement processing.

Upon completion, however, Via Benefits’ oversight of the HRA process will have several tangible benefits for Connector participants, including:

  • The option to receive text message and email updates throughout the reimbursement process
  • The ability to request standard or recurring premium reimbursement forms from an automated phone prompt, eliminating the need for participants to sign into their online accounts or speak with a Via Benefits representative
  • A larger, well-trained team of experts ready to answer all HRA-related questions
  • Clear directions and next steps when a request for reimbursement isn’t approved

In addition, Via Benefits will present a new, streamlined Internet experience. A dashboard will provide your available balance, account details and quick links to submit reimbursement requests. You’ll be able to review your account activity and filter information by expense type and plan year. And, you can use your expense history to track the status of reimbursements.

No action by participants is necessary. The transfer of data, including direct deposit information, automatic premium reimbursements choices and personal identification, will be seamless.

Via Benefits has created a video that will help participants understand the upcoming changes. For questions, contact Via Benefits at 844-287-9945.

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

    • It appears that reimbursement claims are taking longer with the new system. Claims were previously processed within 24-48 hours. Now four days has passed shown as “review”. We were told there would be more staff and things would be more efficient. Is this a start up problem or will this be a normal time frame?

      • The transition from PayFlex to Via Benefits is now complete. We appreciate your patience as they work to enhance the HRA experience and continue processing claims during the scheduled down time. All claims received during the down time will be processed by the end of the month.

        Julie, OPERS

  • I was having a problem with my HRA account. I had very little in my HRA after my health insurance and perscription coverage was paid. I called at least 2 times but was motivated to check again because of the system was going to be down.
    I talked to a very nice rep. She went back to 2018 and said I submitted health insurance premiums for my husband last August. Since I did not have enough money in the account to be reimbursed monthly VIA Benefits has slowly paid the health insurance premiums until now and I am beginning to show a balance. Problem was explained to me so I could understand what happened. We have meetings for our Ohio PERS members very 2 months. Our last meeting we spent time going over with members how to get reimbursed for their needs by submitting forms. A lot of our member have no access to a computer and need some help. I am grateful that my OPERS pension allows this HRA to help with my preimums. It just takes some getting used to how to work our benefits, Thanks you for all you all do to help our retirees.
    Nancy J. Moore
    Shadyside OH

  • When I clicked the link for the video, I got “Error 410 Gone”. all my ad blockers off and the site trusted. Can’t wait for Sept. 3.

  • Will reimbursements for insurance and Rx coverage for August be done soon – via direct deposit into checking? Assuming September premiums will be deducted from checking as normal? Please advise. Thank you!

    • Because of the transition from Payflex to Via Benefits, all claims should be processed by the end of September.

  • I cannot sign on to the website to submit claims for reimbursement. We have been doing it that way for a while now and the system still says it is down. Is there an alternate way to submit receipts for reimbursement? Ours are piling up.

    • The transition from Payflex to Via Benefits is almost complete. If you have questions about your account, please contact Via Benefits at 844-287-9945.

    • I totally agree with Anne Blaisdell September 6, 2019 statement of “Personally, I think the proposed freeze or whatever it is to our COLA is a small price to pay for strengthening the total system. I can live with those changes.”

      A lot of pension plans have collapsed because of poor management. I want my pension to continue.

  • Iam 84 yrs. old I have no idea how to use hra acct. or matter of fact anything having to do with reinburstments.

  • So far so bad with
    The changes in HRA administration. I can sign into my account just fine —but information supplied about my reimbursements is vague & less helpful. Than before the transition And my automatic reimbursements continue to be LATE. I have called the experts x 3 times this month. They were courteous, and knowledgeable & could supply more specific information about my reimbursements. But they could not explain why my reimbursements continue to be late or what was causing delay or when I will be paid. I surmised that this is a common complaint. I am very disappointed with OPERS. I am beginning to feel that OPERS just wants to wipe their hands of us long time employees that started work before OPERS reduced their involvement with providing full retirement benefits. I worked 33 years for the State of Ohio & retired in 2007. Fortunately I am very computer literate. However, dealing with Via on line is not a user friendly experience.After having to navigate a rather glitchy website & Figuring Out how to go through various “back doors” to get my information, I then discover that I have had to call in for help to secure information much more than I did before. When is this new system going to work more efficiently & timely ?

  • 09/19/2019
    This change to VIA is not working. It is not offering “improved” service. My inquiry regarding the reimbursement of an eligible out-of-pocket routine expense was met with a response that had nothing to do with my question. It appears that a reimbursement payout date is determined by OPERS but VIA is unable to give me that date. I have never had to chase after a delayed reimbursement payout prior to this change to VIA.

  • Via Benefits is taking too long to give me my money. They don’t like my receipts but that is the only receipts I have!!! I have sent in 2 times and called but no money!!

    • I agree that they are taking much longer to process claims. Hopefully they will speed up.

      Make sure your receipts show all of the following: your name; provider’s name; date of service; what service/item was provided; and the price. I have had a couple rejected for lack of one of these but when I provided proof they paid right away. They will “red flag” your claim and you can add the information without having to re-file everything.

  • I agree Via Benefits is not improved. My experiences have included: they claimed I was missing description of service (untrue, clearly stated; I had to call); claim of no money in my account (untrue, plenty of money); no reason for continued delays in reimbursements when I always submit everything online. The latest is I submitted a one time payment for Medicare B on October 7; on my account page it said deposited to my checking on October 16, no money was there, so I called and they said it is delayed until October 21 and may take 2-3 days to deposit to my account (no reason as they accepted everything I submitted). I continuously have to closely follow up with everything I submit. It’s a lot of work to get them to do their job.

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