Skip to main content

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: Health Benefits Administrators of Participating Employers
FROM: Employee Benefits Division
SUBJECT: Communications Plan: Option Transfer Period for 2019
DATE: October 1, 2018

We are pleased to announce the communications schedule for this year’s Option Transfer (OT) Period.

Option Transfer Posters
The OT posters help to remind enrollees about the OT Period and other program deadlines. In September, we sent you OT posters equal to one percent of your NYSHIP enrollment. Please post them in high-traffic, highly visible locations and keep them up until the end of the OT Period, typically through year end. Additional copies can be ordered on HBA Online. If your agency posts information for employees on an intranet, please use the attached PDF.

Health Insurance Choices for 2019
Choices is a guide to Option Transfer that details the benefits, services and programs available to NYSHIP enrollees, including The Empire Plan and NYSHIP-approved Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). Procedures for changing options, tips on how to decide which coverage may be best for the enrollee and updates on plan changes are also included in this publication. In October, we will ship you a supply of Choices equal to five percent of your active NYSHIP enrollment. Please distribute to employees who request them as this publication is not mailed to enrollee homes.

Option Transfer Information for Participating Employers Notice
The four-page Option Transfer Information flyer provides the deadline for option changes, as well as information about how to change options outside the OT Period, the enrollee share of the health insurance premium and things to consider when retiring or vesting in 2019. The flyer will be mailed to enrollee homes after the OT Period has been announced. This will occur no later than early December. We also will send you a supply equal to five percent of your NYSHIP enrollment. Note: Notice to active enrollees of 2019 rates is the agency’s responsibility.

Option Transfer Policy for NYSHIP Enrollees with Retiree Benefits
NYSHIP enrollees with retiree benefits* are permitted to change health insurance options at any time once during a 12-month period. This policy allows retirees more flexibility and time to consider personal factors affecting their health insurance option.

*NYSHIP enrollees with retiree benefits include: Retirees, Vestees, Dependent Survivors and Enrollees Covered under Preferred List Provisions of New York State Government and COBRA enrollees with their NYSHIP benefits.

Distribution of Publications for Retirees
Once rates have been approved, we will mail a packet of OT materials to retiree homes. The 2019 Rates & Information for Retirees of Participating Employers flyer includes the rates for each health insurance option for PE agency retirees. This flyer will be mailed to individuals for whom these rates apply, along with Health Insurance Choices for 2019 and a personalized insert with the retiree’s sick leave credit value, if applicable. Note: Retiree Choices is mailed only to retirees living in New York State. We will send you five copies of Choices and the Rates flyer to distribute to new retirees. You may order additional copies throughout 2019, if needed.

Information on the Web
All 2019 Option Transfer publications, including the rate flyers, will be available on the Employee Benefits Division’s administrative website, HBA Online, at Select Health Plan Choices on the homepage to view OT information. This information also will be available on NYSHIP Online at Select Health Benefits & Option Transfer, then choose Rates and Health Plan Choices.

We will remove the 2018 OT information from both the public and administrative websites once 2019 rates have been approved and the 2019 OT Period begins. If you need to view this information, it will still be available in the archives of each site. From NYSHIP Online, select the group, if prompted, and then Using Your Benefits. Choose Publications and scroll down to Archived Publications. From the HBA Online homepage, select Publications and Forms then scroll down to Archived Publications.

To Order Health Benefits Materials
The Employee Benefits Division keeps inventory for all Option Transfer publications to accommodate agencies that need more than the supply shipped. To order OT materials both during and after the OT Period, please use the online publication ordering system via HBA Online at Please do not order publications until you have received your shipment.

If you need help accessing HBA Online, contact the ITS Service Desk at 844-891-1786, or via chat at If you have any questions, please call the Communications Unit at (518) 457-7577.


PE OT Poster