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The Empire Plan is a unique health insurance plan designed especially for public employees in New York State. Empire Plan benefits include inpatient and outpatient hospital coverage, medical/surgical coverage, Centers of Excellence for transplants, infertility and cancer, home care services, equipment and supplies, mental health and substance abuse coverage and prescription drug coverage.

New York State of Opportunity

Acting Commissioner


TO: New York State Agency Health Benefits Administrators
FROM: Employee Benefits Division
SUBJECT: 2018 Annual Option Transfer Period
DATE: November 14, 2017

2018 Annual Option Transfer Period Dates
The Option Transfer Period for New York State employees will be November 15 through December 15, 2017. Employees who wish to request a change during the annual Option Transfer Period must complete and submit a Health Insurance Transaction Form (PS-404) by December 15, 2017. 

2018 Effective Dates for Requested Changes
During the annual Option Transfer Period, employees may make changes to their NYSHIP Option, including electing the Opt-out Program, if eligible. For employees enrolled in the Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP), the annual Option Transfer Period is the time when PTCP enrollees may request changes that will affect their biweekly premium deduction for the new plan year (for example, request to change from family coverage to individual coverage or cancel coverage altogether). 

The NYBEAS benefit plan effective dates for Plan Year 2018 are:

  • December 28, 2017 for employees on the Administration Payroll
  • January 4, 2018 for employees on the Institution Payroll 

Employees who request to enroll in NYSHIP coverage or to add previously eligible dependents to existing coverage are still subject to NYSHIP’s late enrollment rules. This means that employees who request enrollment without a qualifying life event and after their 42- or 56-day waiting period will be considered late enrollees. Refer to the NYSHIP General Information Book for NY active employees for more information. 

Keying Window for Annual Option Transfer Period
HBAs will be able to process the following special transactions during the annual Option Transfer Period keying window from November 15, 2017 through January 12, 2018.

NYBEAS Transactions Only Available During Annual Option Transfer Period [1]

 Action / Reason
 Reason to Use Transaction


Benefit Plan Change during the Option Transfer Period

Used to process an employee’s request who is already enrolled in NYSHIP, and wishes to change their NYSHIP Option (to Empire Plan, a NYSHIP HMO, or the Opt-out Program).


Change to Individual Coverage during the Option Transfer Period

Used to process an employee’s request to change from Family coverage to Individual coverage, effective the new plan year.


Cancel Coverage during the Option Transfer Period

Used to process an employee’s request to voluntarily cancel their coverage, effective the new plan year.

When processing these transactions, HBAs should use the signature date on the PS-404 as the request date. The appropriate effective date, based upon the employee’s payroll cycle, will automatically populate in NYBEAS. For additional information regarding processing annual Option Transfer transactions, including the importance of processing annual Option Transfer requests timely, please refer to the NYBEAS Annual Option Transfer Period Keying Window and Retroactivity Dates attachment. 

Video tutorials providing guidance on how to process transactions during the annual Option Transfer Period can be found in the E-Learning section of HBA Online at

MyNYSHIP for Annual Option Transfer Requests for 2018 Plan Year
Active NYS employees can submit online requests for a change of their health insurance option through MyNYSHIP ( Refer to memo NY07-39 for information about MyNYSHIP. All other health insurance changes (including 2018 Opt-out Program election) must be submitted to the HBA for processing. 

Open Enrollment for the Young Adult Option (YAO)
The Open Enrollment period for the YAO will coincide with the annual Option Transfer Period. The YAO provides coverage to children of NYSHIP enrollees, up to age 30. For additional YAO information, employees may visit:

If you have questions about this memo, please contact the HBA Helpline at 518-474-2780. Visit NYSHIP Online at for information on the 2018 Rates. 

[1] These transactions (PLN/CHG, CCO/OPN, CAN/OPN) are especially important for employees in the PTCP. HBAs should use these transactions when processing a PTCP employee’s request in order to ensure the request change is in effect for the new plan year.