Open enrollment is just around the corner (have you prepared yet? If not, check out my suggestions here on getting ready). And like they do every year, premiums will be going up. But, there is some good news! According to OPM, those in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB) will contribute, on average, 6.1 percent more toward premiums in 2018, less than the 6.4 percent increase in 2016 and the 6.2 percent increase in 2017. Dental and vision premiums will also rise, but at a slower pace than in years past.
The other good news? You’ll have about 20 new plans to choose from. Last year, FEHB offered 245 plans, and this year it’s up to 262. The large number of plans available makes it even more important to start your planning early. Open enrollment runs from November 13 through December 11 this year, so you still have a bit of time to begin outlining what you need, reviewing your current plan, and determining if one of the other 200+ plans might be a better fit for you or your family.
This year, FEHB employees will again have the option to choose from the Self Only plan, a Self Plus One plan, and the Self Plus Family enrollment type. On average, those choosing the self only coverage will pay $5.57 more per biweekly pay period, self plus one will rise $12.55, and self plus family $12.17. Although self plus one plan participants will see the largest increase in premium cost out of the three enrollment types, the coverage is still cheaper in a majority of plan options than the self plus family type. Note that these are average increases and that the actual change in pricing will be dependent upon which plan you choose. Employees can find rates for each HMO and PPO plan that will be offered on OPM’s website.
Here’s something for you to think about: only 5 to 7 percent of FEHB enrollees change their health insurance plan during open enrollment each year. And there are still a fair number of feds who would likely benefit financially from – but haven’t yet moved to – the self plus one option. And while that doesn’t mean that you should absolutely change your health insurance plan this year or any year, it does mean that it’s definitely worth looking into, especially if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands who could benefit from lower premiums if you qualify for self plus one.
So, in addition to checking out the page shared at the start of this post (and those at the end), it’s also worth looking at the tools available to you through OPM and other companies to help compare coverage and cost options:
- Starting simple, learn about the plan types that are offered (and the litany of health care terms you need to remember once a year)
- Once open enrollment begins, compare the plans available in your area
- If you have access to it (either through your employer or if you want to pay out of pocket) use the Consumers’ Checkbook for in depth information on the plans available to you and the estimated cost of your premium and expected out of pocket expenses
If you’d like more information on getting started with open enrollment, check out the following sites and articles:
- GovLoop’s Open Season Guide
- Tips to Get You Ready for Open Enrollment(GovLoop)
- Open Season Cheat Sheet(GovLoop)
- 8 Tips for Choosing the Right Health Insurance Coverage for You(GovLoop)
Do you review your plan options each year or stick with the same coverage? Why or why not? And, what are your tips for finding the right insurance for you? Share with us in the comments!
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