STRS Ohio currently offers access to health care coverage for eligible benefit recipients with 15 or more years of qualifying service who participate in the Defined Benefit Plan or Combined Plan. Once the benefit recipient enrolls, dependents may be eligible for coverage. (Members retiring on or after Aug. 1, 2023, must have at least 20 years of qualifying service to enroll.)
- Ohio law allows the Retirement Board to help retirees and disabled educators by arranging access to health care plans and to use employer contributions not needed to ensure pensions to help fund that health care (ORC Section 3307.39).
- Health care coverage is offered to eligible retirees. Approximately 70% of retirees choose to obtain their health care coverage through STRS Ohio. Current enrollment is approximately 128,000.
- The STRS Ohio member pays a premium, partially subsidized by STRS Ohio on a sliding scale based on service credit. Spouses and dependents are not subsidized by STRS Ohio and pay the full cost of the premium.
- Ohio law requires the Retirement Board to make available hospital coverage equivalent to Medicare Part A and to pay one-half of the cost (ORC Section 3307.61). In addition, the Retirement Board is required to reimburse retirees for a percentage of the Medicare Part B premium (ORC Section 3307.39).
- Since the Retirement Board is required to fund pension, disability and survivor benefits, only funds not needed for these purposes are available for health care.
- The permissible health care plan provided by STRS Ohio has changed since its original inception in 1974. In the beginning, the coverage was available free of charge to all benefit recipients and their dependents. As health care costs have escalated over the years, recipients have been asked to share more in the funding. Today, enrollees in the health care program are paying almost 50% of the program’s costs through premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- STRS Ohio is currently spending more than $1.5 million per day on health care — and this number increases each year. This is a direct result of increased use by an aging population and double-digit increases in medical and prescription drug costs.
- In 1983 the Retirement Board created a special Health Care Fund, recognizing that costs were going to grow and the baby boomers would have a significant impact on the fund. Without this special fund, health care would have been unavailable by 1991. The board continues to look for ways to keep providing a health care package for current and future retirees.