Individual health care market strong in Ohio

Expert says Supreme Court case not likely to disrupt current coverage

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Dec. 10, 2020 – A strong individual marketplace for health care exists in Ohio, a health care policy expert recently told OPERS trustees.

John Barkett, Senior Director of Policy Affairs for Willis Towers Watson Via Benefits, provided an overview of the marketplace and other health care issues at the November Board of Trustees meeting. It was in preparation for 2022, when the OPERS group plan will terminate and our Pre-Medicare retirees will enroll in a marketplace plan.

OPERS will provide these retirees a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) in which funds will be contributed, allowing the retirees to seek reimbursement for qualified medical expenses.

Barkett said the Ohio insurance marketplace has stabilized and will strengthen next year as premiums drop and carriers expand their offerings. There are currently nine insurers in the Ohio market, compared to a U.S. average of 5.4 per state. The carriers define their territories by county, and 95 percent of Ohio residents have access to three or more carriers. Competition is increasing, which will lead to a better environment for consumers.

He said the plans must cover “Essential Health Benefits” that include hospitalization, emergency services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services and preventive and wellness services.

Barkett also addressed the current Affordable Care Act challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case California vs. Texas, the court is deciding whether a coalition of states and citizens have standing to challenge the act, whether the individual mandate to purchase health care coverage is constitutional and whether the mandate can be severed from the rest of the act and ruled on separately.

Barkett believes the case is not likely to disrupt the individual market, meaning OPERS retirees should not face the threat of losing coverage for pre-existing conditions, or having pre-existing conditions precluded from coverage, in the future.

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

27 thoughts on “Individual health care market strong in Ohio

  • December 10, 2020 at 8:27 am
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    Need more information on what is happening to us retires in 2022 regarding health insurance Are you saying we will no longer have Via benefits services??????

    Reply
    • December 10, 2020 at 8:47 am
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      Lynda,

      Via Benefits will continue to administer the OPERS Medicare Connector. Please refer to the Health Care 2022 section of the OPERS website for more information.

      Reply
  • December 10, 2020 at 8:52 am
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    Can you clarify what 2022 ” OPERS group plan will terminate…” means as far as VIA and the services they offer current retirees?

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    • December 10, 2020 at 8:56 am
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      Barbara,

      The “group plan” refers to coverage for pre-Medicare retirees. Via Benefits currently serves Medicare retirees. For more information about the upcoming changes for Medicare retirees, refer to the Health Care 2022 section of the OPERS website.

      Reply
  • December 10, 2020 at 9:21 am
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    What happens if a person lives in fl. Will there be a big difference?

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    • December 10, 2020 at 11:42 am
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      Sylvia,

      That’s a great question. Mr. Barkett referenced only the U.S. average and the Ohio market, but your question is something that the plan administrator will be able to help answer when it comes time to select coverage.

      Reply
  • December 10, 2020 at 10:17 am
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    sounds like a way to reduce senior benefits and increase costs

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  • December 10, 2020 at 3:42 pm
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    Thank you for the detailed information, very interesting keep up the good work

    Reply
  • December 10, 2020 at 8:11 pm
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    If I buy out my pension will my social security still be affected by the windfall act? I had 20 years in the private sector and will have 15 years in the public sector when I retire.

    Reply
    • December 11, 2020 at 11:03 am
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      Danette,

      Yes, if you refund your OPERS account your Social Security benefit is still subject to the WEP.

      Reply
  • December 12, 2020 at 8:54 am
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    If your under 65 and re-employed employee and decide to retire and are offered a COBRA plan by your re-employed employer. Will COBRA be Eligible for the health reimbursement

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    • December 14, 2020 at 11:27 am
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      Your Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) allowance can be used to reimburse yourself for qualified medical expenses, including monthly premiums for the health care coverage medical plan of your choice.
      This plan can be offered through the OPERS Pre-Medicare Connector, Healthcare.gov (The Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care marketplace), a non OPERS-covered employer (yours or your spouse’s), any private health care insurance carrier. We will continue to provide updates on our website under the Health Care 2022 section. Thanks MS

      Reply
      • February 8, 2021 at 10:42 am
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        Please clarify, you are saying that COBRA premiums from your current OPERS employer will not be allowed?

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        • February 12, 2021 at 9:04 am
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          Brent,
          When a person elects COBRA coverage from any source other than OPERS, the premiums are qualified medical expenses that can be reimbursed from an HRA. Thanks MS

          Reply
  • December 12, 2020 at 10:06 am
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    I’m trying to find information on how the new healthcare changes will effect the retired- rehired Pre- Medicare retirees especially when they are no longer a retired- rehired employee after 2022.

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    • December 14, 2020 at 10:52 am
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      Federal rules have recently changed regarding re-employed retirees and HRAs. These changes may provide more options than currently exist. We’re evaluating options and the impact of these recent changes on those re-employed in an OPERS-covered position. We’ll share more information in the Health Care 2022 section of our website as it becomes available in the coming months.

      Reply
  • December 14, 2020 at 6:33 pm
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    Barkett said the Ohio insurance marketplace has stabilized and will strengthen next year as premiums drop and carriers expand their offerings. I disagree with this statement. I have a friend who is the spouse of a recently deceased police officer and she is being offered horrendous health insurance. It has over $10,000 in out of pocket expenses and her premiums are over $900 a month, and she has no choice but to take it. That’s affordable? I really worry for the non-medicare age retirees in OPERS in 2022.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2020 at 11:03 am
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    Retired in 2013 with slightly less that 20 years service. I was grand fathered in as a result. The linked information states

    ” Your allowance will be reduced to between 51% and 74% based on your actual position on the allowance table effective Jan. 1, 2022.”

    Does this mean that I will lose all of the HRA benefit??

    Reply
    • December 23, 2020 at 10:05 am
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      If you retired prior to 2015 and you had less than 20 years of service, your allowance percentage will be reduced to 51% effective Jan. 1, 2022.

      Reply
  • January 12, 2021 at 1:30 pm
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    Any updates about pre-medicare retired-rehired retirees (with opers health care) and the hra allowance ?

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    • January 13, 2021 at 10:37 am
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      Bill,

      We’re planning to post a blog on that subject within a week.

      Reply
  • January 24, 2021 at 6:38 pm
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    I plan to retire effective June 1 of this year. I am pre-Medicare. Am I right that where I fall on the scale (68 %) that beginning in 2022, I will still receive the same 68 % percent only as an HRA deposit? And that will be deposited in my bank account? Or how does that work exactly?

    Reply
    • January 29, 2021 at 3:57 pm
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      On our website under the Health Care 2022 section we offer a step by step guide on how to determine your allowance percentage and additional information on the Health Reimbursement Arrangement. We will continue to update the website as additional information is released. If you would like account specific answers please send your questions through our online account message center or contact our member service center at at 800-222-7377. Thanks MS

      Reply
  • February 26, 2021 at 11:43 am
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    Can you please tell me when will the providers/vendors that VIA Benefits will be offering pre-medicare retirees for 2022 be available for review?

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    • March 1, 2021 at 1:07 pm
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      You can research private plans as well as plans on the open market offered through Healthcare.gov. Information on plans offered through the OPERS Pre-Medicare Connector will be available as we get closer to the 2022 open enrollment period. Thanks MS

      Reply
      • May 11, 2021 at 3:24 pm
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        On Healthcare.gov the plans are all HMO’s, will VIA Benefits be offering at least one PPO plan or more? We are nearing 6 months from 2022 and yet not details have been released on vendors that will be available. I presume still no intention of releasing that information so people can plan and research options?

        Reply
        • May 19, 2021 at 2:35 pm
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          Terri,
          The majority of individual and family medical plans offered through the OPERS Pre-Medicare Connector are Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) – all plans secured through healthcare.gov for Ohioans are HMOs. The OPERS Pre-Medicare Connector will also offer plans not available on healthcare.gov. A licensed benefit advisor can walk you through a comparison of all the plans available to you. We are fully committed to providing plenty of communication to you along the way. Refer to the Health Care 2022 section of the OPERS website for more information. Thanks MS

          Reply

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