Federal Employees 2011 Open Season for Health Benefits, Dental, Vision Insurance and FSA
From the Office Of Personnel Management
• The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that this year’s open season for health benefits, dental and vision insurance, and Flexible Spending Accounts will run from November 8 through December 13, 2010. This open season will give federal employees and retirees the opportunity to change their health-care coverage and employees who are not enrolled, but are eligible to participate, the opportunity to elect coverage.
• Each year, OPM enters into annual negotiations with each FEHB carrier, historically enabling the program to hold premium increases below industry averages and secure good benefits value for enrollees and their families.
• Premiums for the 2011 FEHB Program will rise by an average 7.2 percent for the enrollee share of premiums. This increase is below last year’s premium increase of 8.8 percent and lower than rate hikes predicted for large, employer-sponsored health programs by benefit consultants such as Aon, Milliman, and Price Waterhouse Coopers, which are estimating 2011 premium increases between 8.9 percent and 10.5 percent.
• In January 2011, there will be 207 health plan options in the FEHB Program.
• The Affordable Care Act extends important new benefits to FEHB enrollees and strengthens the program. Preventive care and screenings will be available with no out-of-pocket costs and enrollees will have the right to add their young adult children under the age of 26 to their family health plan. According to an OPM analysis, and consistent with independent reports, these new consumer protections account for a 1.7 percent increase in premiums.
• Additionally, all FEHB plans are fully compliant with the insurance reforms required by the Affordable Care Act and, in the case of preventive care, FEHB plans have extended benefits ahead of when they were required to do so by the Act.
• Enrollees with self-only coverage will pay, on average, $5.53 more each pay period and enrollees with family coverage will pay $11.45 more per pay period. FEHB enrollees pay, on average, 30 percent of the total cost of the plan’s premium while the government pays 70 percent.
• Enrollees in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Option, the most popular FEHB plan choice, will see their share of the premium increase by 6.9 percent for self-only coverage and 7.6 percent for self and family coverage.
• All FEHB plans will offer tobacco cessation benefits in compliance with the U.S. Public Health Services’ 2008 clinical guidance on tobacco cessation. This includes full coverage (no enrollee co-payments) for seven FDA-approved medications, four counseling sessions per quit attempt, and two quit attempts per year.
• Five FEHB plans have increased benefits for hearing devices and/or other assistive devices and twelve FEHB plans currently provide coverage for hearing aids and/or assistive technology devices.
• Sixteen FEHB plans will offer testing for up to four transplant donors for bone marrow and stem cell transplants.
• Two health plans, GEHA and Mail Handlers, will pilot coordination of benefits with Medicare, whereby the FEHB plan will contribute toward the cost of the enrollee’s Medicare Part B premium in return for the enrollee accepting the same cost sharing (e.g. copayment/coinsurance) as non-Medicare enrollees. Medicare enrollees may voluntarily participate in these pilot programs. Currently, these plans waive some cost sharing for enrollees with Medicare coverage.