History of the Retiree Program
A BRIEF HISTORY OF
THE WASHOE COUNTY RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS PROGRAM (RHBP)
In May 1977, the Board of County Commissioners first approved the retiree medical insurance benefit (to include medical, vision and life insurance) for full-time employees retiring from Washoe County. At that time, the benefit included a 50%, 75% or 100% payment by Washoe County toward the retiree’s health insurance, depending on years of service.
During FY 04/05 labor negotiations, it was agreed that employees with a post FY 97/98 hire date would receive a "subsidy" amount from Washoe County for their health insurance premium upon retirement, rather than the above percentages. The intent of the negotiated subsidy was to mirror the contribution amount the State was providing to their retirees on their State-run health insurance plan (PEBP), and Washoe County has continued to to follow that guideline.
During FY 10/11 labor negotiations, the post FY 97/98 employee group was split into two categories for purposes of determining subsidy amounts—those aged 64 or younger, and those aged 65 or older. On July 1, 2011, the State of Nevada discontinued the PEBP subsidy for individuals age 65 or older. To help offset the loss of the PEBP subsidy, the State instituted a small contribution to a Medicare Exchange Retiree HRA. As previously negotiated in FY 04/05, Washoe County’s intent was to mirror the contribution amount the State was providing to their retirees (although this is subject to future labor negotiations), so effective July 1, 2011, the County provides PEBP subsidy levels for retirees aged 64 and younger, and Medicare Exchange Retiree HRA subsidy levels to retirees aged 65 and older.
Also negotiated during the FY 10/11 collective bargaining process was the requirement that all post FY 97/98 employees elect Medicare Parts A and B upon reaching Medicare eligibility (age 65). In addition, employees hired July 1, 2010 or later would no longer receive any retiree health insurance contribution from Washoe County.
So what does this mean for you as you plan your retirement? There are now three categories for administering the RHBP. Depending on your original hire date, your years of service, and your age at the time of retirement, you will fall into one of the following categories:
Employees hired pre FY 97/98 receive the following benefit:
• With 10 or more years of County Service – County will pay 50% of monthly premium
• With 15 or more years of County Service – County will pay 75% of monthly premium
• With 20 or more years of County Service – County will pay 100% of monthly premium
Employees hired post FY 97/98 (see Exhibit A for the exact negotiated dates by bargaining unit) and who are age 64 or younger upon retirement, receive the equivalent of the State’s PEBP non-State retiree subsidy* based on years of service with Washoe County. At age 65, Medicare becomes the primary insurance carrier, with Washoe County becoming secondary.
Employees hired post FY 97/98 and who are age 65 or older upon retirement receive the equivalent of the State’s Medicare Exchange Retiree HRA Contribution subsidy* based on years of service with Washoe County. You must elect Medicare within 60 days of your retirement date. Medicare then becomes the primary insurance carrier, with Washoe County becoming secondary.
* The PEBP non-State retiree subsidy and Medicare Exchange Retiree HRA Contribution subsidy amounts are revised annually by the State. For current subsidy levels, please contact our Benefits Specialist at 328-2079.
In order to qualify for any County benefit through the RHBP, you must be vested in PERS, have a minimum of five years of County service and must immediately draw your PERS benefit upon retirement from Washoe County. Should you choose to work for another Nevada public entity at a later date and your PERS benefit is suspended, you will no longer qualify for the program and will lose this benefit.
If you choose to terminate your RHBP for any reason, NRS 287.0475 allows you to return to our health insurance plans on any even-numbered year. You may reinstate your medical, vision and dental coverage, but not life insurance. Also, if you choose to return to the RHBP, you will be responsible for 100% of the premiums, regardless of what your benefit was prior to leaving the Program. (If you were employed with the County prior to January 13, 1981, you may be exempt from this restriction.)
PERS and Your Insurance Premium Contribution
If you are responsible for any portion of your or your dependent’s insurance premium, Washoe County automatically deducts the premium from your monthly PERS pension check. The County collects premiums one month in advance, so the deduction for February’s premium is reflected in the January PERS payment; the March premium is deducted from the February PERS check and so on. Because these deductions have to be relayed to PERS in advance, it will be necessary for you to submit your first month’s premium to Health Benefits when submitting your RHBP Application. Depending on your retirement date, it may be necessary to pay a pro-rata amount for several days beyond the first month’s premium. When you meet with our Benefits Specialist, she will calculate the exact amount you will need to submit with your RHBP Application.