Want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at PORAC? We’re turning the spotlight on each of the specialized committees and trusts that are working hard to serve our members. This month, we focus on the Insurance and Benefits Trust.
When law enforcement officers put on their uniforms, they do so not knowing what they’ll encounter during their shift or whether they’ll make it back home to their loved ones at the end of it. The unpredictable nature of the job has officers putting their lives on the line each day, and for that reason, they need to ensure they have proper safeguards in place to protect not only themselves but their loved ones in case of injury, illness or death, on duty or off.
Having adequate insurance and benefits is crucial in the law enforcement profession, but sometimes purchasing insurance products can be expensive and the process overwhelming. With so many plans and coverage options available, it can be difficult for members to choose what’s right for them and their families. That’s where PORAC’s Insurance and Benefits Trust (IBT) comes in.
The IBT was born out of PORAC’s Insurance and Benefits Committee, which existed to assist members with enrolling in and purchasing insurance. Over time, the committee recognized the benefit of expanding the types of insurance products offered to PORAC members; however, expanding in this way required the formation of a trust. So the committee, with the approval of PORAC’s Board of Directors, established the IBT in 1991.
“The IBT was created in an effort to enhance membership benefits by providing quality, affordable insurance products and services to members who may not otherwise have access to affordable group insurance benefits,” explains Franco Vado, who was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2010 and was recently elected chairman.
The IBT’s 11-member Board is composed of eight elected trustees (two from each region), PORAC’s vice president, a PORAC Board representative and a Retiree Associate Member (RAM) representative. The regional trustees are elected by their associations, while the PORAC vice president (or designee), Board member representative and RAM representative are appointed by the PORAC president.
“The best part about being involved with the Board is that it’s law enforcement members making decisions on law enforcement-related issues,” Vado says.
The trustees, along with the IBT staff, are responsible for carrying out the Trust’s mission of providing members insurance products at a reasonable price. Their continuous work has allowed the IBT to provide vision insurance to active members, a dental and vision plan to retired members, life insurance plans, home and auto insurance and other supplemental plans.
In addition to sponsoring an array of insurance products, the IBT provides services and support to help members understand how the Trust’s products can best protect them and their family members, advocates for members in cases when they need assistance with any type of insurance issue or question, and offers assistance to association leadership in negotiating the Trust’s products into their MOUs.
Since its inception, the Trust has grown considerably and now offers members a number of affordable quality insurance products, such as the disability plans, which are designed to provide continued income in the event a member becomes ill or injured on or off duty and is unable to work. “The Trust’s long-term disability carrier and partner continue to provide members with the confidence and security of knowing benefits will be there when they need it — whether it be today or in 10, 20 or 30 years,” Vado adds.
The Trust has also gone through considerable change. In 2018, when the federally mandated Affordable Care Act (ACA) reinsurance fee was set to renew, the IBT decided to restructure the health plan under a self-insured Administrative Services Only (ASO) funding arrangement to avoid a $7 million ACA fee that would have added an average increase of $700 to each member’s premium.
This decision not only saved members money but also allowed the Trust to capitalize on enhancing benefits, such as the Police and Fire Health Plan. As a result of the action taken in 2018, the plan continued saving members over $7 million in ACA tax dollars and negotiated a pharmacy contract with Anthem Blue Cross resulting in a savings of $4 million to the health plan.
“I’m proud of the challenges the IBT has taken on and how much it has grown,” Vado says. “We’ve always been committed to providing excellent products and service to our members, and that is reflected in how much our subscribership has grown.”
That growth, in turn, is reflected in the planned purchase of IBT’s new office building. (The Trust currently shares office space with PORAC Headquarters.) The IBT recently went into contract to purchase a new two-story, 20,000-square-foot building to house its employees as it continues to expand its participant services. Vado hopes the IBT will be able to move into the new building by early spring 2021.
“I think members will be surprised to learn how much the IBT has really grown,” says Vado, who adds that the Trust is currently working on completing and organizing the transition of the ASO and the enrollment component of Anthem’s services, along with improving its self-insured health-care plan. “We want our members to know all about the products and services we offer and know that we have a dedicated staff available to assist them with their insurance needs.”
Franco Vado (chairman)
Israel Reyes (secretary/treasurer)
Richard Buss (vice chairman)
PORAC Vice President
PORAC Board Appointee