Don’t cancel insurance in 2021

Beware of brokers offering medical coverage before next year

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Sept. 8, 2021 – As OPERS members prepare to choose a new medical plan for 2022, we would like to caution Pre-Medicare retirees about insurance brokers soliciting you to offer medical coverage effective prior to Jan. 1.

OPERS no longer will offer a group medical and prescription drug plan effective Dec. 31. Instead, you will have the opportunity to opt in to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and receive monthly deposits from OPERS beginning Jan. 1.

As we approach the open enrollment period this fall, it is likely you will be solicited by independent insurance brokers offering medical plans. Some retirees have reported already receiving calls from brokers offering coverage that would go into effect before the end of 2021.

When you receive solicitations from insurance brokers, please keep the following in mind:

  • OPERS is not closing the OPERS Pre-Medicare group plan until Dec. 31, 2021. If you cancel your coverage prior to the end of 2021, it would be considered a voluntary termination.  Voluntarily terminating your coverage could impact your ability to enroll in a new medical plan, because it’s not considered a qualifying event.
  • If you disenroll from the OPERS group plan prior to Jan. 1, 2022, you will forfeit the current OPERS health care allowance used to offset your group medical plan premiums through the remainder of 2021.  Additionally, you will not be eligible for the one-time OPERS HRA transition deposit of $1,200 if you are not enrolled in the group plan as of Dec. 1 of this year.
  • OPERS is providing you with an unbiased Connector to help you navigate the individual and family medical plan market. We highly recommend you consult with Via Benefits to explore your new medical plan options before choosing to work with an independent insurance broker. The Benefit Advisors from Via Benefits who are assisting retirees with plan selection and enrollment do not receive commissions for placing you in a medical plan. OPERS requires them to explore all health care options available for our retirees.
  • Once you have opted in to the HRA through Via Benefits this fall, you will begin receiving monthly HRA deposits as of Jan. 1, 2022. Via Benefits has begun reaching out to Pre-Medicare retirees regarding the HRA opt in and plan enrollment processes. Please read this information carefully.

Plan to attend a 2022 Open Enrollment webinar in conjunction with Via Benefits. Visit the Member Education Center at opers.org to register.

You also can visit marketplace.viabenefits.com/opers for general information on the services Via Benefits will provide beginning this fall.

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

  • I’m at this time wanting to stay w/OPERS plan, want to have HARD COPY of OPERS in hand because my phone & laptop are too old to handle all the info. Thank you.

    • Charlene,
      We offer educational information about health care 2022 through our website. Please send the questions you have about health care coverage through your online account message center or contact OPERS Member Services Center at 1-800-222-7377.
      Thanks,
      MS

  • On the Via Benefits – OPERS website, at the bottom of My Account page (I am & still will be pre-medicare) is the following:

    “Via Benefits receives compensation in the form of commissions from insurance companies from the sale of insurance products and services we offer. Some of the compensation that Via Benefits receives may be contingent and may vary depending on a number of factors, including the insurance contract and insurer you select. In some case, other factors such as the volume of business Via Benefits provides to the insurer or the profitability of the insurance policies that Via Benefits provides to the insurer also may affect our compensation. Via Benefits may accept this compensation in locations where it is legally permissible and meets standards and controls to address conflicts of interest. Whether or how much insurers may pay in such compensation does not play any role in the Via Benefits’ insurance recommendations. Via Benefits also may receive other compensation from third parties, such as for selling or referring the sale of other products or services.”

    To me, the above statement on the Via Benefits OPERS website doesn’t tell me that they won’t receive any compensation from placing me in a specific insurance plan. If they do receive it, I don’t believe it wont affect their recommendations.

    • Clara,

      Enrollment suggestions to retirees will be completely unbiased and driven solely by the needs of the retiree. Commission levels are never considered as part of the enrollment process. Benefit advisors are not compensated with commissions. In fact, benefit advisors are unaware of the commission amounts Via Benefits collects from the carriers – this information is limited to executive staff.

      • Benefit Advisors may not be compensated (commissions) but from the language Clara provided in her comments, someone is receiving compensation which I beleive was the point.Please correct me if I am incorrect Clara. Can OPERS state that Via (as a company) is not making money off their relationship with OPERS? I’m just curious. but can it be stated that OPERS does not receive any type of benefit, monetary or otherwise, from their relationship with Via?

        • Gina,

          Just to clear this up, OPERS is partnering with Via Benefits Insurance Services to create the OPERS Pre-Medicare Connector. Via Benefits will be able to help Pre-Medicare retirees by evaluating their funding options (OPERS HRA vs. federal subsidies) and then enrolling in a medical plan that best meets their needs.

          So OPERS pays Via Benefits, and Via Benefits provides a service to the pension system. As stated earlier, any commissions involved are never considered as part of the enrollment process. Benefit advisors are not compensated with commissions, and they are unaware of the commission amounts Via Benefits collects from the carriers.

    • Clara,

      Thanks for pointing this out. In a perfect world, Via Benefits would have on blinders and help us pick out the very best plan for us, without any pressure from management or other incentives. Most of us are old and wise enough to realize that many times this is not always the case. with the thousands and thousands of retirees involved in this process and the clock ticking quickly to make a decision, steering retirees to a certain insurance company could make a huge ending difference in “compensation”.

      Probably too late to do anything about it now. It will be interesting to see if transparency is again hidden from us. Maybe OPERS could later post a chart showing what companies were chosen, by how many retirees and dollar amounts of “compensation”.

  • I am a recent retiree. I am 59. I am not able to use OPERS health insurance plan yet…i will when I turn 60 in July2022. I had to go to the ACA to get health insurance. Would I be able to use Via Benefits in November 2021…to get into a supported process of OPERS and parlay that to recieve the HRA and OPERS health insurance at age 60? The ACA has been a nightmare for me and would rather get setup to reduce confusion. Also open enrollment and changing plans can be frustrating

    • Jeff,
      You can contact Via Benefits Pre-Medicare Connector to find out what options are offered to you. If you have additional questions about your OPERS retirement please send the questions through your online account message center so we can provide account specific answers to your questions.
      Thanks,
      MS

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