April 2, 2020
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Although the Act contains several provisions related to retirement plans, many of those provisions are not immediately applicable to the retirement plans administered by PEBA. For example, some provisions relate to plan features that are not currently offered by these plans or relate to different types of retirement plans altogether. The information below describes the mandatory provisions of the CARES Act that will take effect automatically for the retirement plans administered by PEBA. PEBA is continuing to review the other provisions of the CARES Act and will provide additional guidance as we assess whether any of the non-mandatory provisions of the Act will have an impact on the retirement plans.
PEBA administers five defined benefit plans:
The CARES Act provides mandatory tax relief for certain retirement plan distributions made during 2020. As implemented for the defined benefit plans administered by PEBA, this tax relief will not create a new type of distribution for the defined benefit plans. However, if a member or beneficiary has a distributable event under the existing plan provisions and certifies that the distribution meets the CARES Act requirements for a “coronavirus-related distribution,” the distribution may be eligible for the tax relief provided by the CARES Act for such distributions.
To receive the tax relief for a distribution as a coronavirus-related distribution made during 2020, the recipient (i.e., member or beneficiary) must certify that he or she meets one or more of the following coronavirus-related criteria:
In addition, because an individual cannot claim coronavirus tax relief for more than $100,000 in retirement plan distributions in a calendar year, the recipient must also certify that the distribution from the defined benefit plans administered by PEBA will not cause the recipient to exceed that limit.
For the defined benefit plans administered by PEBA, distributable events that may be eligible to be considered coronavirus-related distributions include:
Members receiving a coronavirus-related refund of their retirement contributions during 2020 would not be subject to the automatic 20 percent federal income tax withholding. Also, members under age 59½ at the time of the refund distribution would not be subject to the 10 percent early withdrawal tax penalty. The waiver of mandatory withholding does not necessarily mean taxes will not be owed on the distribution. Members should consult with a tax advisor for more information on tax implications. Members are required to complete the COVID-19 Certification (Form 4275) certifying that the refund meets the requirements of a coronavirus-related distribution.
Members who received a coronavirus-related refund and later return to covered employment would have three years from the date of the distribution to repay contributions to re-establish their service credit without interest. The repayment of contributions after that three-year period would be subject to interest.
Beneficiaries who choose to receive a direct payment of benefits rather than rolling the amount over into another qualified retirement plan for coronavirus-related reasons would be exempt from the automatic 20 percent federal income tax withholding during 2020. The waiver of mandatory withholding does not necessarily mean taxes will not be owed on the distribution. Beneficiaries should consult with a tax advisor for more information on tax implications. Beneficiaries are required to complete the COVID-19 Certification (Form 4275) certifying that the direct payment meets the requirements of a coronavirus-related distribution.
For both the State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP) and the South Carolina Deferred Compensation Program (Deferred Comp), the CARES Act provisions of providing tax relief for coronavirus-related distributions made in 2020 under existing plan terms and the waiver of required minimum distributions (RMDs) for 2020 will take effect automatically. The third-party administrators of the plans will implement the provisions as soon as possible. As implemented, this tax relief will not create a new type of distribution for State ORP or Deferred Comp. However, if a participant or beneficiary has a distributable event under the existing plan terms (i.e., severance of covered employment), and certifies that the distribution meets the CARES Act requirements for a “coronavirus-related distribution,” the distribution would be eligible for the tax relief provided by the CARES Act for such distributions. The waiver of mandatory withholding does not necessarily mean taxes will not be owed on the distribution. Participants should consult with a tax advisor for more information on tax implications.
In addition, for Deferred Comp, the provisions of the CARES Act extending certain loan repayment dates will take effect automatically and will be implemented by Empower Retirement. No other plan changes are effective for State ORP and Deferred Comp at this time.
March 31, 2020
To better serve our members during this time, we strongly encourage you to use PEBA’s online resources to submit your transactions instead of mailing paper forms. Since PEBA has limited staff working in the office, using the online tools will ensure your transactions are processed in a timely manner. If you submit transactions via paper, processing time will be delayed as we deal with the effects of COVID-19.
MyBenefits is the fastest, most convenient way for subscribers covered by PEBA-administered insurance programs to manage their benefits. You can use My Benefits to:
Learn how to register for MyBenefits here.
Member Access, is the online resource that allows you to view and update the personal information on file for your retirement account. You can use Member Access to:
Learn how to register for Member Access here.
March 20, 2020
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BlueCross) is the third-party administrator for the State Health Plan. Below is information from BlueCross about Blue CareOnDemand and other telehealth services. If you have questions, please contact BlueCross at 800.868.2520.
Telehealth visits provide convenience for people to access care at home. This will also help slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting exposure, mitigating the surge of demand on our health care system and helping protect health professionals on the front lines.
Any visit type through Blue CareOnDemand is now available with no member cost share, effective until further notice, when code COVID19 is used. For more information on the member experience follow this link to details.
Our provider telehealth policy has been expanded effective March 17, 2020, and for 30 days thereafter. After that, the policy will be reevaluated for extension or modification.
In addition to expanding virtual access to health care providers, BlueCross has taken the following steps to help our members as it monitors COVID-19. These steps include:
It is important to understand that the waiver or all cost sharing is solely for the COVID-19 test and not the associated physician office visit and other services. These services will still be subject to office copay, deductible and coinsurance.
For the latest information, visit bcbs.sc/covid-19.
March 19, 2020
Due to Governor McMaster's executive order, PEBA is significantly decreasing the number of staff who will be in the office beginning Friday, March 20, 2020. The Governor's decision is to protect state employees during this unprecedented public health crisis. Even though PEBA staff will be limited, we will still provide critical business operations, including our Customer Contact Center, the processing of retirement claims and payroll, and the processing of insurance enrollments and billing. Monthly retirement benefits and insurance claims payments will continue without interruption as well.
If you have an urgent insurance appeal, you should email your appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include as many details as possible, including the plan for which the appeal is (State Health Plan, MUSC Health Plan, dental, etc.).
Because staff will be limited, please direct all inquiries to our Customer Contact Center at 803.737.6800 or 888.260.9430. We also encourage you to check our website (www.peba.sc.gov), and our Facebook and Twitter pages periodically for updates.
March 18, 2020
Due to the threat of COVID-19, PEBA will close our Visitor Center beginning March 19, 2020, until further notice. This is in response to the directive we received from Governor McMaster to take proactive measures to help safeguard the health and safety of our workplace. Members are encouraged to take advantage of PEBA’s online tools.
For insurance subscribers, MyBenefits is the fastest, most convenient way for subscribers covered by PEBA-administered insurance programs to manage your benefits. MyBenefits also ensures speedy transmission of your coverage changes to our third-party claims processors.
Member Access is the online resource that allows you, as a member of a PEBA-administered retirement plan, to view and update the personal information on file for your retirement account and conduct online transactions such as applying for your service retirement or a refund of contributions.
If you participate in the State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP), you may contact your service provider for questions about your State ORP account.
If you participate in the South Carolina Deferred Compensation Program (Deferred Comp), you may log in to your Deferred Comp account at www.southcarolinadcp.com or call Empower Retirement at 877.457.6263.
Our Customer Contact Center is also available to assist you from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can reach the Contact Center by calling 803.737.6800 or 888.260.9430.
March 13, 2020
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) wants to make sure that its State Health Plan members, including its older members and those with underlying health conditions, have an adequate supply of their medication during this time. Typically, you can refill your medication when 25 to 35 percent of your current prescription is remaining.
If you are concerned about your supply of medications due to COVID-19, you can contact your pharmacist to obtain an additional 30-day supply outside of the normal refill procedures. Please note that regulations pertaining to dispensing controlled substances still apply. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, pharmacies may be waiving charges for home delivery of prescription medication. Check with your network pharmacy to see if this service is being offered. You can find a network pharmacy by logging in to your Express Scripts account at www.express-scripts.com.
If your network pharmacy does not have your medication available, you may also contact Express Scripts at 855.612.3128 to request a supply of your prescription be filled by Express Scripts Home Delivery and mailed to you.
The State Health Plan will cover testing to diagnose COVID-19 at no member cost when prescribed according to guidelines set by public health authorities. Any services associated with treatment will be covered following normal Plan provisions.
PEBA, along with the governor’s office and other healthcare authorities in South Carolina, is closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our state. The safety of our membership is our top priority. If you are sick, we encourage you to take advantage of the MUSC Health Virtual Care telehealth service, which is available at no cost to all State Health Plan members, including our Medicare-primary members.
Here’s how to use this service:
The best preventive measures against COVID-19 are the same as those for the flu or other viruses:
For the latest information about COVID-19, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. For the latest information about the spread of the disease in South Carolina, see the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website.
Each new year offers us fresh starts and new beginnings. This new year also brings a new logo for PEBA. The previous logo was unveiled on July 1, 2015, as a part of the agency’s official branding. During the past four-and-a-half years our agency has grown and evolved in ways none of us could have ever imagined. As a result, we felt the time was right to refresh our logo so that it better reflects who we are as an agency and what we do. We will transition to the new logo over the next few months so keep an eye out for updated materials.
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has released a request for proposal (RFP) for the Pharmacy Benefits Management Services. The RFP is located here. Please see the RFP for instructions on asking questions or requesting additional information.
The annual open enrollment period for all participants of the State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP) is January 1 to March 1 of each year. During this period, State ORP participants may change their State ORP service provider or, if eligible, may irrevocably elect to participate in the South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS).
Details about the 2020 open enrollment period are available online.
December 4, 2019
Beginning January 1, 2020, State Health Plan members, including our Medicare-primary members, will have access to a telehealth option through MUSC Health Virtual Care. MUSC Health Virtual Care is available at no cost to members and there is no cost to the State Health Plan. Members can opt for non-video visits or video visits. Common conditions treated include allergies, pink eye, sinus infections, skin rashes, sore throat, urinary tract infections and flu.
A member does not need to be a South Carolina resident; however, a member must be in South Carolina at the time of the visit. Members ages 18 and older can create an account. Members can also add dependents to their account. Visits for dependent children under age 18 must be completed by a parent. Beginning in January, members can go to www.MUSChealth.org/virtual-care to start a visit.
December 2, 2019
Beginning January 1, 2020, the Patient Assurance Program will enable State Health Plan members to get a 30-day supply of their preferred insulin for $25 (90-day supply for $75) at a network pharmacy or through home delivery from Express Scripts Pharmacy. On or after January 1, 2020, members can see if their insulin medications are eligible for the reduced copayment by logging in to their account at express-scripts.com or by calling Express Scripts at 855.612.3128.
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has released a request for proposal (RFP) for the State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP). The RFP is located here. Please see the RFP for instructions on asking questions or requesting additional information.
October 15, 2019
Empower Retirement was awarded the recordkeeping contract for Deferred Comp beginning January 1, 2020. As part of the new contract, the annual recordkeeping fee that participants pay on their account will decrease next year. Participants currently pay 0.0975 percent of their account balance, which is divided and deducted quarterly. Beginning in January 2020, the annual recordkeeping fee will be 0.065 percent.
October 8, 2019
An electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, is a hand-held, battery-operated device that emits both vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine solutions for inhalation. E-cigarette usage has become more prevalent the past few years, and has most recently become a significant health concern because of conditions believed to be associated with such use.
Accordingly, PEBA has updated the Certification Regarding Tobacco and E-cigarette Use form to include e-cigarettes. Subscribers who use e-cigarettes, or cover dependents who use e-cigarettes, need to complete a new form. Similar to those who use tobacco, subscribers and their covered dependents who use e-cigarettes can complete the Quit for Life® smoking cessation program.
September 27, 2019
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has released a request for proposal (RFP) for Basic and Supplemental Long Term Disability insurance. The RFP is located here. Please see the RFP for instructions on asking questions or requesting additional information.
Beginning January 1, 2020, the State Vision Plan will change to EyeMed's Select provider network from the Insight provider network. State Vision Plan members can maximize their vision benefits by using a provider in the Select Network. If they use an out-of-network provider, the vision plan will pay at a lesser rate.
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has awarded the contract to provide recordkeeping, administration, communication, education, custodial trustee services and investment management services (Deferred Compensation Program) to Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company. The award is located here.
The South Carolina Supreme Court recently ruled to prospectively abolish common law marriage, effective July 24, 2019. Common law marriage was defined as longtime couples who publicly held themselves out to be married but did not have a marriage license. The ruling means that, beginning July 24, 2019, citizens can no longer enter into a common law marriage in South Carolina. Existing common law marriages remain valid and have not been impacted. Beginning July 24, 2019, a subscriber cannot cover his or her spouse unless he or she is married and has a marriage license on file.
As a result of this ruling, the Common Law Marriage Affidavit is no longer available on PEBA’s website. A subscriber whose common-law spouse was covered by PEBA-administered insurance benefits prior to July 24, 2019, and for whom an affidavit is on file with PEBA, is not impacted by this ruling. If you have any questions, please call our Customer Contact Center at 803.737.6800 or 888.260.9430.
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide recordkeeping, administration, communication, education, custodial trustee services and investment management services (Deferred Compensation Program). The RFP is located here. Please see the RFP for instructions on asking questions or requesting additional information.
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) intends to offer a voluntary group TRICARE Supplement Health Insurance plan to its TRICARE eligible subscribers as a health plan option for plan year 2020. The voluntary group TRICARE Supplement Health Insurance plan will be offered to TRICARE eligible subscribers through the PEBA's Section 125 cafeteria plan in order that subscribers may pay premiums on a pretax basis, in accordance with federal law and regulations. Additional information is located here.
March 5, 2019
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to Provide Claims Administration Services for the Self-Funded State Dental Plan, and Accompanying Insurance for the State’s Voluntary Supplemental Dental Product, Dental Plus. The RFP is located here. Please see the RFP for instructions on asking questions or requesting additional information.
February 20, 2019
As a Medical Spending Account (MSA) participant, you are setting aside money from your paycheck pretax to pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses. We want to make sure you understand how to monitor your account, access your funds and provide documentation to ASIFlex, if needed.
How do I access my account?
ASIFlex offers an online participant portal that allows you to access your account balance, read messages from ASIFlex, file and view the status of a claim and submit documentation. Create your account by visiting www.asiflex.com/SCMoneyPlus and selecting Participant Login from the Account Login menu option. Once you've created your account, you can download the ASIFlex mobile app to manage your account and submit claims on-the-go. The app is available for download in the App Store and Google Play. Just search for "ASIFlex Self Service."
From your account, you can also update your communication preferences. Go green by signing up for email and text alerts. You can also set up direct deposit for your reimbursements.
How do I access my MSA funds?
You have access to your total election amount, even though you'll contribute to your account each paycheck. You can find a comprehensive list of eligible expenses online. As you have eligible expenses, you can use your ASIFlex Card or pay for the expense out of your pocket and submit a claim for reimbursement. If you opt to submit a claim, there are several ways you can do that.
If approved, reimbursement will be made to you within three business days following receipt of a complete claim.
What is auto-adjudication and how does it work?
Auto-adjudication is when card transactions are automatically substantiated following IRS guidelines and using available data. IRS guidelines allow the following items to be auto-adjudicated and will not require follow-up documentation:
ASIFlex receives claims data weekly from BlueCross for health and dental claims, and from EyeMed for vision claims. ASIFlex will auto-adjudicate as many card transactions as possible using the data it receives, but can only do so if a transaction amount is equal to the amount shown on the file. If the card transaction does not exactly match the insurance claim data, you will need to provide follow-up documentation.
It's important to remember using the ASIFlex Card is not a completely paperless process; there are times when you will need to submit documentation. IRS regulations require you to retain appropriate documentation each time you use the card in case you need to substantiate a transaction. Carry the ASIFlex Wallet Card with you to show your provider. Each time you use the debit card, ask the provider for an itemized statement of the service(s) provided in case you need to submit documentation. The itemized statement must include the following:
How do I know if documentation is required?
ASIFlex will only receive data once your provider submits a claim to BlueCross or EyeMed. If ASIFlex does not have data for you or the amount does not match your card transaction, you will be notified.
There are two ways you will know if documentation is required:
If you choose to pay your provider after you receive a final bill, ASIFlex will look back at insurance claims data it has received in the last 120 days to attempt to auto-adjudicate the transaction.
If you believe that a card transaction matches an insurance claim, but it is still highlighted online, you can call ASIFlex at 833.SCM.PLUS (833.726.7587) and ask them to match the insurance claim data with the card transaction.
What else should I keep in mind?
You must submit valid claims incurred by December 31, 2019, before March 31, 2020, for reimbursement. However, if you don't use all your funds, you can carry over up to $500 in unused funds into 2020. You will forfeit unused funds over $500.
Where can I get more information?
You can review your account statement and read messages by logging in to your participant portal. You can also find a variety of resources, including forms and useful links, online at www.asiflex.com/SCMoneyPlus. More information is available in the MSA FAQs and ASIFlex Card FAQs.
Who do I contact if I need help?
ASIFlex is your best contact if you need help with your MSA or have questions about something you see in your portal. You can reach them at 833.SCM.PLUS (833.726.7587). Customer Service is available Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., ET.
You can also email ASIFlex at email@example.com.
Composite premiums for the State Health Plan are the fourth lowest in the nation, according to the lastest analysis of what public employers and employees are paying for health insurance. The Plan's composite premium is 20.2 percent lower than the South regional average and 30.1 percent lower than the national average of other state plans.
The South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) has released an Invitation for Bid (IFB) to Provide Group Vision Benefits. The IFB is located here. Please see the IFB for instructions on asking questions or requesting additional information.