(a) The board is hereby empowered and authorized to establish a fully insured or self-insured health insurance plan for employees and, under certain conditions, retired employees and to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations for the administration of such plan subject to such limitations as may be contained in this article. Such plan may provide for group hospitalization, surgical, medical, cancer, cash indemnity, and dental insurance against the financial costs of hospitalization, surgical, and medical treatment and care and may also include, among other things, prescribed drugs, medicines, prosthetic appliances, hospital inpatient and outpatient service benefits, and hospital/medical expenses indemnity benefits, including major medical benefits or such other coverage or benefits as may be deemed appropriate and desirable by the board, within the limits of such funds as may be available.
(b) Any member employee or, under certain conditions, retired employee may elect an optional or supplemental coverage provided by the board which shall include but is not limited to dental, cancer, or indemnity benefits. Such election shall be in accordance with the rules and regulations and at such times as the board shall prescribe. Election of an optional or supplemental coverage shall be in lieu of primary coverage under the basic medical plan, provided any individual covered under the basic medical plan may elect an optional coverage upon agreeing to pay the costs of such coverage. Any member employee or retired employee who does not elect an optional or supplemental coverage shall be deemed as a matter of law to have elected basic medical primary coverage.