Health insurance premiums for non-U.S. Postal Service federal employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will increase by an average of 3.4% in 2013, according to new FEHBP premium rate data released Thursday by the Office of Personnel Management, Government Executive reports (Lunney, Government Executive, 9/20).
Details of Premium Rate Data
There will be no major changes to the workers' benefits, according to the Washington Post's "Federal Diary." The increase is down from the 3.8% rate hike this year and less than half of the 7.4% rate hike in 2010, "Federal Diary" reports (Davidson, "Federal Diary," Washington Post, 9/20).
Meanwhile, USPS workers will see their premiums increase by an average of 3.8% next year, OPM said.
Under the new rate for non-USPS employees in FEHBP, government contributions will increase by 3.3%, while participants will pay 3.7% more, Government Executive reports (Government Executive, 9/20). The increase means that those employees will pay an average of $2.75 more for each two-week pay period for individual coverage and an average of $6.39 more per pay period for family coverage.
OPM also said health maintenance organization fees will increase by an average of 5.3%, while premiums for fee-for-service plans will see an average increase of 3% ("Federal Diary," Washington Post, 9/20). The average increase to premiums for dental plans will be less than 1% in 2013, while the average premiums for eye care plans will drop by less than 1%, the agency said.
Further, a cap on health care spending accounts, which more than 331,000 federal employees use, will drop from $5,000 to $2,500 next year, as a result of Internal Revenue Service rules.
According to Government Executive, various factors influence the premium rates, such as an aging population, benefits changes in health plans and movement of enrollees between plans (Government Executive, 9/20).
Comments on New Premium Rates
OPM Director John Berry said he is "pleased" that his agency was able to keep the average increase for premiums down for a second consecutive year without sacrificing employee benefits ("Federal Diary," Washington Post, 9/20).
However, the National Treasury Employees Union -- which represents about 150,000 federal employees -- said any increase would have a significant effect on workers because of the ongoing federal pay freeze enacted by Congress (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/20).
Jacqueline Simon -- public policy director for the American Federation of Government Employees -- said the group estimates that at least 250,000 federal employees who are eligible for FEHBP coverage are uninsured because they cannot afford the premiums. That number could be higher because of the "two-years-and-counting pay freeze," she added ("Federal Diary," Washington Post, 9/20).