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Make 2020 benefits choices now

By SHERRY HALBROOK

It’s time to continue or change your health benefit choices for 2020.

Watch your mailbox for the Rates & Deadlines for 2020 flyer, which will likely arrive in November and provide the biweekly premium rates. It also will include the deadline for changing health plan options, and other important dates, such as payroll deduction dates.

In late September, the Planning for Option Transfer flyer was mailed to active employees enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). This flyer describes the requirements and enrollment procedures for several benefits and programs, including NYSHIP health benefits, the Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP), the Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP), and the Opt-Out Program.

If you are considering changing your health insurance option for 2020 or wish to review your current option, ask your health benefits administrator, usually located in your personnel office or the NYS Business Services Center for a copy of Health Insurance Choices for 2020, your guide to NYSHIP options.

Or, find Choices and other option-transfer publications on NYSHIP Online at www.cs.ny.gov/employee-benefits. Select your group and plan, if prompted. On the NYSHIP Online home page, select “Health Benefits & Option Transfer” and then “Rates and Health Plan Choices” for the most up-to-date Option Transfer Period information.

Missing the Option Transfer Period deadlines can be very costly. Mark your calendars or set reminders for these important deadlines.

Nov. 8 – Health Care Spending Account (HCSAccount)

The HCSAccount could reduce your 2020 income taxes (payable in 2021) by allowing you to set aside pre-tax salary earned in 2020 to pay for health, dental and vision care expenses that are not reimbursed by your health insurance or other benefit plans. Visit www.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 2020.

Nov. 19 – 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 the NYSHIP premium on a biweekly basis. If you are currently enrolled in PEP, you must re-enroll to continue in 2020.

Deadline date to be announced – Option Transfer Period

Dates will be announced once the 2020 premium rates have been approved. During the Option Transfer Period, you may change your NYSHIP health plan option, including enrolling in the Opt-out Program if eligible. If you are currently enrolled in the Opt-out Program, it is no longer necessary to re-enroll in the Opt-out Program each year. No action is required for current Opt-out enrollees who are still eligible and wish to remain in the program for 2020.

Deadline date to be announced – Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP)

The PTCP Election Period will now run concurrently with the Option Transfer Period. 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.

If you are enrolled in PTCP, you can make the following changes during the Option Transfer Period:

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. Requests made during the PTCP Election Period are effective beginning the 2020 plan year.

Deadline date to be announced – Young Adult Option (YAO) Enrollment

The YAO provides coverage to children of NYSHIP enrollees up to age 30. The open enrollment period for the YAO will run concurrently with the Option Transfer Period. During this time, eligible adult children of NYSHIP enrollees may enroll or switch plans. For more information, visit www.cs.ny.gov/employee-benefits/young-adult-option/.

For the latest health benefits information for PS&T members, visit the PEF website.


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