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Shapiro Administration Announces Enhanced Health Benefits for Commonwealth Employees and Their Families


Additional health benefits will help the Commonwealth recruit and build a more competitive workforce and make state government the best place to work in Pennsylvania. 

A reduced waiting period for new hire and dependent eligibility, enhanced vision and dental benefits, and other improvements will support Commonwealth employees and their families and help them save more of their hard-earned money.

Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver today announced the details of enhanced medical, prescription drug, dental, and vision benefits for Commonwealth employees to improve workforce recruitment and retention and the overall health of employees and their dependents.

The changes were approved by the Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund (PEBTF), which is governed by a board of trustees comprised equally of Commonwealth and union representatives. The vast majority of Commonwealth employees and their families are eligible for benefits through the PEBTF.

“We want to support Commonwealth employees and their families in a holistic manner that includes their physical, mental, and financial health so they can succeed both personally and professionally as they serve their fellow Pennsylvanians," said Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver, Chair of the PEBTF Board of Trustees. “These enhancements to Commonwealth benefits are designed to make us more competitive with the private sector and other employers so we can attract and retain talented employees to serve the people of Pennsylvania."

Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that health care costs are a significant burden for many U.S. families, with approximately 50 percent adults saying health care is difficult to afford, 25 percent saying they have skipped or postponed care, 20 percent saying they not filled prescriptions, and 50 percent saying they worry about paying their premiums.

The following benefit enhancements will become effective on August 1, 2024:

  • Reduced waiting periods and costs for new hires. Newly hired Commonwealth employees can add dependents to their medical, prescription, dental, and vision coverage after 30 days of employment without paying an additional buy up contribution. The current period is 90 days, while most employers have shorter waiting periods of 30 to 60 days. As a result of this change, a new employee who purchases medical and prescription benefits for their dependents during the waiting period will save nearly $2,700 in out-of-pocket costs. Employees continue to be eligible for medical coverage on their first day.

    Newly hired employees can enroll themselves in prescription drug benefits during their first 30 days of employment for an additional buy up contribution. Currently, new hires who want to enroll in prescription drug benefits for themselves pay the buy up for 90 days. 

  • Expanded dental network. Employees and their dependents will be able to receive covered services from approximately 1,000 additional dentists in Pennsylvania. 

  • Coverage for inpatient hospice care will be covered under employee's medical benefits. This is a new benefit for PEBTF members. 

The following benefit enhancements are effective on January 1, 2025:

  • Increased maximums for dental benefits – A recent review of the Commonwealth's dental plan identified several benefits that lagged most plans offered by employers in the private sector. As a result, the annual plan maximum will increase from $1,500 to $2,000 and updated to exclude diagnostic and preventive care. The lifetime maximum for orthodontics will increase from $1,750 to $2,250. Additionally, dental implants are now covered under the plan. 

  • Increased vision benefits – Coverage amounts for eyeglass frames will increase from $150 to $175 and add coverage for transitions lenses of $65 for single vision and $70 for bifocal/trifocal lenses. These changes were also driven by an analysis of private sector benefits, as well as being requested by unions on behalf of their members.  

PEBTF benefits are funded by contributions from the Commonwealth as the employer and by Commonwealth employees. The costs of these enhanced benefits will be absorbed by the fund with contributions remaining at their current levels.

The enhanced PEBTF benefits align with Executive Order 2024-01 to establish the Hire, Improve, Recruit, Empower (HIRE) Committee to expand opportunities for Pennsylvanians seeking careers in public service, continue to build a more competitive workforce, and make state government the best place to work in the Commonwealth signed by Governor Josh Shapiro last month. Chaired by Secretary Weaver and comprised of Cabinet secretaries and senior Administration officials, the HIRE Committee will help to strengthen the Commonwealth's recruitment, hiring, development, and retention of high-performing employees by attracting younger generations, hiring for historically hard-to-fill jobs, and ensuring our workforce represents our residents. Executive Order 2024-01 also directs the Office of Administration to study the evolving needs of Commonwealth employees and their families to ensure Commonwealth policies and benefits, including PEBTF benefits, provide meaningful support in a fiscally responsible manner.

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