Florida: OPS Employees, Benefits, and Timely Information

Kudos to the state of Florida for making healthcare benefits available to all full-time employees this year. That includes full-time “other personnel services” (OPS) employees, who previously got no benefits whatsoever. This could have been postponed one year, but Florida decided to roll it out this year.

But the implementation has glitches.

To distinguish part-time OPS from full-time OPS employees, the state of Florida analyzed past pay data for positions to see how many hours per week, on average, each position charged over a set window of pay periods. If the number was over some threshold, the state would classify that position as a full-time position that would allow enrolling in healthcare benefits. The state’s human resources system, People First, notified all employees that the employees making the full-time cut would get notification in the mail and be able to set their choices during the benefits open enrollment period, which ends on November 8th. It takes exceptional circumstances to enter the system or make changes outside the open enrollment period.

Some of you may have deduced one large hole in the system from what I just stated. In case it isn’t popping out for you, consider what happens when the state of Florida makes a “false negative” mistake, where an employee should be classed as full-time, but is not? In that case, the employee would receive no notification from People First concerning their status and the problem could be unnoticed until too late to correct it within the open enrollment time frame. People First should instead have sent out the results, positive or negative, concerning an OPS employee’s status, so that timely action could be taken.

How do I know this? Because the state of Florida made just that kind of error concerning Diane’s job. It is only because Diane has been pro-active and prompt in trying to get her benefits set up that the problem has been located and is in the process of being fixed.

If you are a full-time OPS employee for the State of Florida, the “Benefits Statement for the 2014 Plan Year” you got in the mail is not a notification that you are eligible for benefits. Do not assume that you can enroll in benefits at the last possible moment in the open enrollment period. At least check your access now so that if there is an error in your case, you can get it fixed in time to enroll in benefits.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.