OPM publishes 2018 FEHB Premiums

Full Sets of Rate Charts

In addition to the biweekly and monthly premiums, you can also find the total premiums, the amount the government pays, and the change in your portion of the premium compared to last year. All FEHB plans will offer a Self Only, Self Plus One, and Self and Family enrollment types. Note: Non-Postal Rates apply to enrollees who are not employed by the U.S. Postal Service. U.S. Postal Rates apply to enrollees who are employed by the U.S. Postal Service. Continue reading

Obamacare repeal could affect health care coverage for postal workers

Donald Trump’s demand that the Republican Congress immediately repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, could have serious implications for postal workers.

Most at risk would be non-career employees not eligible for the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program. Some of those employees have received coverage under a USPS sponsored plan that was set up in order to comply with the ACA.

The 2013 press release announcing the contract, which was awarded to United Health Care, specifically noted that it was being established in order “to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”.

So will these employees actually lose their coverage? We asked the US Postal Service, and so far they haven’t responded- we’ll update this story if and when they do.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that career postal workers and retirees won’t be unaffected by the repeal of Obamacare. Coverage for children under 26 and free coverage for preventive services and contraception are among the coverages required by the law, and could be eliminated from FEHB plans after repeal.

Beyond that. of course, there is a very real possibility of further changes in FEHB coverage and funding. FEHB is, after all, controlled by the Office of Personnel Management, which, after January 20, will be run by Donald Trump.

NALC’s Rolando corrects errors in radio show dealing with USPS retirement funding 

Walton Francis, principal author of Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, recently appeared on Federal News Radio to discuss issues surrounding postal retirees health insurance and postal reform legislation. In the attached letter, NALC President Fred Rolando disputes several of Francis’ statements :

Dear Mr. Francis:

nalc-logo-largeOn behalf of the membership of the National Association of Letter Carriers, I write to address a number of issues raised by your recent appearance on the Mike Causey radio show on Federal News Radio (September 28, 2016). That show dealt with the proposed postal reform bill (H.R. 5714) adopted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this year – and particularly with the proposed changes in the way the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) covers postal employees and annuitants.

Although I appreciate your expertise regarding FEHBP and I acknowledge the incredible value of your guide to federal health plans during the program’s annual open season, your understanding of the proposed postal reform bill (and the NALC’s position regarding it) is seriously lacking. During the radio program you made a number of statements about these issues that are simply not accurate. Continue reading

Overall FEHB premiums to rise 4.4% in 2017- postal workers hit with 11.7% increase in employee contribution

Washington, DC – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced today that premiums for the 2017 Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program will rise by an average of 4.4 percent. The FEHB rate increase is below projected increases for the national large group market.

Government Executive reports that USPS employees and retirees will see a higher increase when lower employer contributions are factored in:

U.S. Postal Service employees will pay an average of 11.7 percent more for their premiums — or $16.32 per paycheck — a slight decrease from the 2016 bump. Self-only enrollees will pay 11.5 percent more; self-plus-one, 12.9 percent; and self-and-family, 11.6 percent. The government share will increase by just 2.8 percent.

fehbThe FEHB Open Season, which begins November 14th and runs through December 12th, will give Federal employees and retirees the opportunity to review the 2017 rates and benefits and change their health care coverage if they wish. The upcoming Open Season will also give employees and retirees the chance to select supplemental dental and/or vision coverage. In addition, Federal employees can elect to participate in a tax-deferred Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for health care and/or dependent care.

“The FEHB program is an important benefit for Federal employees to provide quality health care for themselves and their families,” said OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert. “I urge Federal employees, and annuitants to use this Open Season opportunity to carefully review their health care needs and to choose wisely among the plans and enrollment options available to them.”

OPM is dedicated to providing quality healthcare for the enrolled population.  By way of example, for several years, OPM has encouraged FEHB carriers to offer ABA benefits for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and we are pleased that all plans will offer clinically appropriate and medically necessary treatment for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2017.

Established in 1960, the FEHB Program is the largest employer-sponsored health benefits program in the United States.  On average, the Government pays about 70 percent of the health benefit premiums.  Approximately 85 percent of all Federal employees participate in the Program.

The OPM website provides a detailed breakdown on the FEHB Program premium rates and the FEDVIP rates.

Source: Open Season for Federal Health Benefits, Dental and Vision Insurance and Flexible Spending Accounts

Final day to change health benefits is Monday, Dec. 14

From USPS News Link:

If Postal Service employees want to change their health benefits or enroll in a new plan, they must act now.

The annual open season benefits enrollment period ends Monday, Dec. 14, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

This will be most employees’ last chance this year to consider the new options, such as Self Plus One, which covers an employee and one other eligible family member.

Available plans include the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), USPS Health Benefits Plan for non-career employees, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

The LiteBlue open season site has more information. Retirees should visit OPM Open Season Online.

NALC supports plan to move postal workers to separate health insurance pool

When Senator Tom Carper unveiled his latest postal reform bill, one of the more controversial items was the provision that established a separate health insurance pool for current and former postal workers, along with the requirement that postal retirees enroll in Medicare when they become eligible. At the time, the National Association of Letter Carriers President Fred Rolando released a statement calling the bill “a good place to begin the conversation” about preserving the USPS. Rolando noted, however, that the bill included “several provisions we cannot support and raises a number of serious concerns for letter carriers and the larger federal employee community”.

Rolando’s statement didn’t specify which provisions he had a problem with, but it’s clear now that the redesign of the health insurance program wasn’t one of them. A little noticed, unsigned article in the union’s official magazine, the Postal Record, makes it clear that the union whole heartedly supports the change. It even quotes Rolando as saying “It’s a proposal that NALC was instrumental in developing”.

NALC-LOGOAlthough work remains to be done on key issues, such as adjusting postage rates and service standards,there is broad agreement on the most important financial problem facing the Postal Service: how to alleviate the crushing burden to pre-fund decades of future retiree health benefits. The industry has coalesced around the idea of full Medicare integration for health plans that cover postal employees and postal annuitants in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP)—that is, implementing a requirement that postal annuitants enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when they reach age 65, and requiring FEHBP plans covering postal employees to adopt drug plans made possible by the Medicare Part D program.

This approach would not only largely resolve the pre-funding requirement that is hindering USPS finances, it also would reduce FEHBP health insurance rates for all active and retired letter carriers as part of the bargain.

“It’s a proposal that NALC was instrumental in developing,” President Rolando said. Indeed, the basic outlines of the proposal were carefully crafted by the NALC and the USPS by the health care task force established by the 2013 Das award. “We have agreed on the major provisions of this plan, but we are taking a cautious approach to it to make sure that any legislation takes into account the best interests of the Postal Service, letter carriers and other postal workers.”

According to the proposal, the Office of Personnel Management would create a postal-only health benefit program within FEHBP. These postal plans would be rated and priced separately from the plans covering other federal employees, with rules on Medicare enrollment that would apply only to the postal plans. Postal retirees covered by these postal plans would be required to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when they reach age 65. In addition, the postal FEHBP program would embed low-cost drugs made possible by the Medicare Part D program.

Click here to download the full Postal Record article.

Open season, online: USPS health benefits info will be on LiteBlue

Note: 2016 Open Season info is available here.

From USPS News Link:
Postal Service employees will be able to download health benefits guides from LiteBlue during this year’s open season, which begins Nov. 10.

Open season is the annual period when employees can make changes to their health coverage or choose a new plan.

In the past, the guides were automatically mailed to employees. By putting the guides online, USPS wants to make it easier for employees to evaluate their choices and also help fulfill the organization’s commitment to sustainability.

The following guides will be available on LiteBlue by early November:

  • 2015 Guide to Benefits for Career United States Postal Service Employees (RI 70-2).
  • 2015 Guide to Benefits for Certain Temporary (Non-career) United States Postal Service Employees (RI 70-8PS).
  • 2015 Guide to the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP BK-1).
  • 2015 Guide to USPS Non-career Employee Health Benefits Plan (NCEHP BK1).

LiteBlue will also offer additional Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) resources, such as checklists, fact sheets, FAQs and a health plan comparison tool.

To request paper copies of one or more guides during open season, call the Human Resources Shared Services Center at 877-477-3273 (press option 5) or TTY 866-260-7507.