New plan set for re-employed retiree health care

Reimbursement deposits will continue to accumulate beginning in 2022

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

March 4, 2021 — Last summer the OPERS Board of Trustees approved a new health care plan for re-employed retirees. Here are details of the plan, which will begin in 2022.

OPERS is transitioning from offering a Pre-Medicare group medical plan to providing a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), in which participants will choose an individualized health care plan. OPERS will contribute funds to an HRA that participants can use to claim reimbursements for qualified health care expenses.

Because group plans are being eliminated in 2022, the trustees voted to implement new rules for re-employed retirees effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Current re-employed retiree coverage

When current retirees become re-employed in an OPERS-contributing position, their health care coverage changes. OPERS requires all re-employed retirees to choose coverage offered by the employer if it’s available to them.

If employer coverage isn’t available, re-employed retirees may enroll in a separate, OPERS group medical plan that closely aligns with our current plan for Pre-Medicare retirees. Retirees pay a premium, which is offset by the OPERS-provided allowance. For Medicare retirees, the allowance replaces the HRA deposits during the re-employment period. Participants are subject to new deductibles and co-insurance.

There is one difference specific to Medicare re-employed retirees. They can stay enrolled in their Medicare medical plan through Via Benefits with no monthly HRA deposits (vs. enrolling in their employer coverage or enrolling in the OPERS group plan if employer coverage isn’t available). No matter which option they choose, they would not receive an HRA deposit, and expenses incurred during re-employment are not eligible for reimbursement; however, expenses incurred outside of re-employment can continue to be reimbursed.

Re-employed retiree coverage beginning in 2022

All re-employed retirees will be able to retain their individual or family medical plans (or their Medicare medical plan through Via Benefits if applicable). The monthly HRA deposits will continue to accumulate during re-employment in a separate Re-employed Accumulated HRA, as long as the retiree stays opted into the HRA (or in their Medicare medical plan through Via Benefits). Members can track the balance through their online accounts.

However,  re-employed retirees will not be able to access the accumulated money while they’re re-employed. It will become available once they terminate their re-employment and can be used to seek reimbursement for any expenses incurred outside of re-employment.

Similar to today, re-employed retirees will continue to have access to their HRA balance during re-employment to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred outside of re-employment.

For more information on these changes, visit the Health Care 2022 page at opers.org.

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

  • Are cost saving days recognized by OPERS? It was reported that this was in questions. They are already taking the money each check , just would like clarification why OPERS would not count the CSD

    • Mark,
      Contributions are remitted to OPERS based on the member’s actual earnable salary. Ohio law provides that the amounts of employee and employer contributions remitted to OPERS are derived from the actual earnable salary paid to the member. The contributions remitted to OPERS are not based on what the member would have earned this year without the furlough days. Contributions are remitted to OPERS based on what the member was actually paid. When a public employee is paid less money by his or her employer, OPERS likewise receives less money in contributions. OPERS records the contributions and determines the member’s annual earnable salary based on the actual contributions received. Thanks MS

  • Keep chipping away at us until there is nothing left… Nothing surprises me when it come to health care and OPERS. Us retirees always getting the short end of the stick. Always……………

  • This has thrown me to the wolves. I am retired under OPERS and now work part-time in an OPERS position. But because I am part-time, my employer offers no health care. OPERS tells me too bad, pay COBRA or get your own plan with no HRA.

    • Barry,

      Beginning in 2022, OPERS retirees who are re-employed will be eligible to have money contributed by OPERS into an HRA. The money can be used for qualifying health care expenses incurred after the member retires.

      • But unfortunately that does not help you pay for medical while you are working. So, it sounds like this is a way to get people who retired to NOT return to re-employment. Which I understand if you retired and then re-hired at the exact same position, then you are just trying to get as much money as you can, but if you retire and then go back to work part-time at a different position, in a OPERS position and insurance isn’t available, you get the short end of the stick, because, yes, you still accumulate HRA, but you cannot touch it while you are re-employed, so then you are having to pay insurance out-of-pocket, and all expenses out-of-pocket, so then basically everything you are making at your job is getting spent on medical insurance, so you might as well not be working, it feels like you are getting penalized for going back to work.

  • This is very confusing. I’m re-employed, I have Medicare (not through Via Benefits).
    I got lost with 2022 . . . no clue. I need help!

    • E Callazo,
      Please contact our Member Service Center through the online message center through your online account there we will be able to view your account and provide a account specific answer to your questions. If you need additional assistance please contact us at 1-800-222-7377.
      Thanks MS

  • Hi Michael, I have a question about my Retiree Medical Account HRA and the Affordable Care Act. Can I receive Premium Tax Credits on healthcare.gov while I have funds available in my RMA?

    • Pam,
      In 2022 the premium tax credit offered through healthcare.gov cannot be combined with the health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) allowance from OPERS. If you have additional questions please forward them through your online account message center so we can provide account specific answers. Thanks MS

  • I am 60 years old and worked for 35 years. I am back part time. I am not eligible for Health care I only work 20 hours a week. Will I be able to access my Health Care allowance to buy my Health Care?

    • Debby,
      In 2022 re-employed retirees will not be able to access the accumulated money while they’re re-employed. It will become available once they terminate their re-employment and can be used to seek reimbursement for any expenses incurred outside of re-employment. Thanks MS

  • So everyone with a part time job has to quit their job to have access to their HRA, that we earned or pay 100% of health care out their pocket.

  • Please define “re-employed” ??? Does re-employed mean any form of employment while we are collecting an OPERS pension??? Private sector or an OPERS job ? Typically people seek re-employment because their pension isn’t enough to sustain their lifestyle.

    • Patty,
      OPERS will no longer offer a group medical plan after 12/31/2021. Please send questions through the online message center so we can provide account specific answers. Thanks MS

  • Hi Michael,

    When the pre-medicare HRA begins in 2022, will there be a cap on the amount that can be rolled over to the next year or can it continue to accumulate to any amount?

    • Laurie,
      The Pre-Medicare HRA will not have a limit on the amount of money that can be rolled over year to year.
      Thanks, MS

  • Michael,

    In 2022 & after, can pre-medicare and/or medicare HRA accounts be used to pay for a spouse’s or other dependent’s qualified medical expenses or are withdrawals only permitted for the retired member’s qualified medical expenses?

    • Laurie,

      The pre-Medicare and Medicare HRA can be used to be reimbursed for qualified dependents post tax health care expenses.
      Thanks MS

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