Continuation of Benefits as a Vestee

Q: If I am separating from County employment before reaching age 55, what options do I have?

A: For most employees, if you are under age 55 but have met the minimum years of employment with the County so that you could have become a health benefits retiree if you were 55, you are considered to have "vested" your health benefits. If you are considering becoming a health benefits vestee, please speak with your department Human Resources Representative to discuss your eligibility. If you are not eligible to become a vestee, you may continue your health benefits through COBRA.

Q: What is the advantage to being a health benefits "vestee"?

A: Under current County practice, if you separate from service with the County and continue your health benefits as a vestee, you will become a health benefits retiree when you reach age 55. This means that, under current practice, while you must pay the full cost of health benefits as a vestee, once you reach age 55, you will continue your health benefits by paying only the level of contribution that you paid as an employee.

Q: How much will I pay to continue my health benefits as a vestee?

A: As a vestee, you have to pay the full cost of the health benefits until you reach age 55 and become a health benefits retiree. The 2018 premium rate for vestee enrolled in the Empire Plan costs $2,348.15 a month for family coverage and $1,014.98 a month for individual coverage. Vestees do not have to pay the administrative fee that is included in COBRA. Please note that these rates are subject to change.

Q: Is every County employee entitled to be a "vestee" if they have enough years of service when they leave County employment?

A: No. Ordinance employees hired on or after August 21, 2008 can only continue health benefits as a vestee if they leave County employment at age 50 or older.

Q: What will happen if I stop paying the premium?

A: If you cease making the premium payments, your coverage will be canceled permanently and you will not be able to receive County-provided health benefits coverage when you reach retirement age.

Q: Can an eligible vestee maintain vestee benefits without paying the required premium?

A: Yes, if the vestee maintains continuous coverage with NYSHIP as an enrollee or a dependent of an enrollee. However, if the Nassau County vestee establishes vesting or retirement rights through another NYSHIP Participating Agency or Participating Employee, then Nassau County is released from its obligation to provide the vestee with retiree health benefits. The enrollee would now have to continue vesting or retire through the second agency. This option is only available to NYSHIP enrollees. HMO enrollees do not have this option - they have to pay the vesting premium.