Time to make benefits choices for 2018
By LORRAINE SIMPKINS
The Option Transfer Period is here – the time to make your health benefits choices for 2018. Watch your mailbox for 2018 Option Transfer information, health insurance premium rates, and important deadlines for several benefits and programs.
This information also will be posted on the NYS Department of Civil Service website at www.cs.ny.gov/employee-benefits. Select your group and plan, if prompted, and then Health Benefits & Option Transfer.
Missing the Option Transfer Period deadlines can be very costly. Mark your calendars or set reminders for these important deadlines:
- November 6 – Health Care Spending Account (HCSAccount). The HCSAccount could reduce your 2018 income taxes (payable in 2019) by allowing you to set aside pre-tax salary earned in 2018 to pay for health, dental and vision care expenses that are not reimbursed by your health insurance or other benefit plans. Visit flexspend.ny.gov to enroll online, or call 1-800-358-7202 for more information or to enroll by telephone. If you are currently enrolled in the HCSAccount, you must re-enroll to continue your participation in 2018.
- November 6 – Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP). PEP allows eligible full- and part-time employees in a job title at or below grade 24 to exchange previously accrued annual leave and/or personal leave in return for a credit which reduces their share of New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) premium on a biweekly basis. If you are currently enrolled in PEP, you must re-enroll to continue in 2018.
- November 30 – Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP). Under the PTCP, your share of the health insurance premium is deducted from your wages before taxes are withheld, which may lower your tax liability. In exchange for this reduction in your tax liability, you agree to maintain the same pre-tax health insurance deduction for the entire plan year, unless you provide timely notification (within 30 days) of a qualifying event, which would allow you to make a change or cancel your coverage.
In November, if you are enrolled in PTCP, you can make the following changes:
• 1) Change your PTCP election;
• 2) Change from Family to Individual coverage, while your dependents are still eligible, when there is no qualifying event;
• 3) Change from Individual to Family coverage without a qualifying event (late enrollment provisions will apply); and
• 4) Voluntarily cancel your coverage, while you are still eligible for coverage, when there is no qualifying event. Unless you wish to make one of these changes, no action is required to maintain your current PTCP election. For more information, see the September 2017 Planning for Option Transfer flyer.
Deadline date to be announced for electing to participate in the Opt-out Program. The Opt-out Program allows eligible employees who have other employer-sponsored group health insurance to opt out of their NYSHIP coverage in exchange for an annual incentive payment. Other coverage cannot be NYSHIP coverage that is the result of your or your spouse’s, domestic partner’s or parent’s employment relationship with New York State, or the result of your own employment with a NYSHIP Participating Agency (PA) or Participating Employer (PE). If you are covered as a dependent on another NYSHIP policy through a PA or PE, you are eligible to receive the Individual incentive payment of $1,000, but not the Family incentive payment of $3,000. If you currently participate in the Opt-out Program, you must re-enroll to continue to receive incentive payments in 2018. The deadline is the same as the deadline for changing health plans. For more information, see the September 2017 Planning for Option Transfer flyer.
• Deadline date to be announced for changing health plans. The annual Option Transfer Period will be announced once 2018 premium rates are approved. You will have 30 days from the date your agency receives the rates to change your health plan. Consider your choice carefully. You may not change your health plan after the deadline except in special circumstances. No action is required if you do not wish to change health plans.