FEHB Advice from Dan Hartenstein
Last fall, when the 7.4% (on average) increase in FEHB (Federal Employees Health Benefits) premiums was announced by the government to employees and retirees, it was the largest premium increase since 2011.
But, rather than simply being stuck with higher payments for these benefits, enrollees do have other options in terms of changing health plans so as to get out from under these higher dollar coverage obligations.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Depending on the specific plan that you are enrolled in, the actual amount of your premium increase could be more or less than the average. For example, the average rise in premium for those in a self-only plan was roughly 6.5%, while those in a family plan, on average, saw a whopping 10.7% increase.
You may or may not be paying all of these premiums out of your own paycheck, though. For instance, the government pays, on average, about 70% of the total FEHB enrollees’ premiums. But, if you work for the U.S. Postal Service, your employer may pay even more for you.
Things to Consider
Even with the employer’s help, though, the steep rise in premium, on top of other increasing costs across the board, can make this recent move with FEHB benefits enough for many employees to consider other coverage options.
This is because in addition to these rising benefit premiums, many federal employees have also had to deal with several years of either no cost-of-living adjustments, or extremely small pay increases, while at the same time, many federal retirees aren’t seeing much in the way of retirement income increases either. This can make it doubly hard to justify remaining in a plan that has increased the premium in excess of 5%.
With that in mind, it is important to weigh out all potential options, as well as the various costs, prior to moving forward with any decision. Keep in mind that all health plans are not created equal, so be sure to compare apples-to-apples when evaluating any other coverage.