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Ohio PERS shifting 145,000 retirees to private health insurance exchange

Ohio PERS shifting 145,000 retirees to private health insurance exchange

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System is shifting health care coverage for 145,000 Medicare-eligible retirees and spouses to a private insurance exchange, the Columbus-based public pension fund announced.

Effective in 2016, coverage will be offered through OneExchange, a private insurance exchange run by Towers Watson & Co.

Through the exchange, “retirees will save money and will have a wider selection of health care programs from which to choose,” OPERS Executive Director Karen Carraher said Wednesday in a statement.

Through the exchange, beneficiaries will be able to choose from plans offered by more than 90 insurers, the statement said. Currently, OPERS offers coverage provided by Humana Inc.

Under the arrangement, participants will receive a monthly allowance — credited to an account — from OPERS to pay for their share of the premium in plans they select, as well as to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The amount of the allowance is based on member age and years of service. The vast majority of current retirees will receive a monthly credit of at least $337, an OPERS spokeswoman said.

OPERS says it is the largest public pension plan in Ohio with $88.6 billion in assets and the 11th largest public plan in the United States.

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