9/28/11: NTEU received a briefing yesterday on FEHBP and the issues related to OPM’s annual Open Season period for FEHBP and other federal benefits programs. Federal employees and retirees need to closely examine their current coverage and consider any needed changes during the upcoming Federal Benefits Open Season which runs from November 14 through December 12 this year. Unfortunately, like in the private sector, premiums under FEHBP will rise again this year.
While premiums have not risen as rapidly as in previous years, enrollees will still see an average increase of 3.5 percent in their portion of their health insurance premium. Total premiums average a 3.8 percent increase when counting the government’s contribution. The premiums for enrollees in the popular Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) Standard option will increase by 1.6 percent, with the enrollee share actually slightly decreasing. But those enrolled in the BCBS Basic option will face an increase of 7.5 percent in their premium share. HMOs will also see an average increase in premiums of 6.7 percent overall. As always, it is important to shop around and compare cost and benefits of the individual plans.
According to OPM, FEDVIP’s premium changes for 2012 are on average less than one percent for dental plans and vision plans’ premiums are decreasing on average by 1.6 percent. FEDVIP serves nearly 2 million enrollees in either dental or vision plans. New enrollments or changes to FEDVIP can also be done for active and retired federal employees during Open Season.
OPM indicated that no major benefit reductions have been approved for the upcoming year. In addition, nearly 280,000 dependents between the ages of 22 and 26 are now being served by FEHBP in compliance with current law. This is a development that NTEU long called for.
While enrollee premium increases are somewhat smaller than in recent years, many federal employees will be hard pressed to find money for the additional payments due to the two- year pay freeze they are under. NTEU opposed that freeze and will continue to fight against other proposals that would cut federal pay and benefits.
NTEU will continue to provide updates as we receive additional information about Open Season. OPM has posted premiums for 2012 on its web site at http://www.opm.gov/insure/ and will update additional plan information in the upcoming weeks.