Happy Open Season, everyone!
OPM announced its Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) rate hikes for 2016 FEHB Open Season.
OPM states that the average rate hike is 6.4 percent, which does not sound that bad.
…But the real news is not quite this good- Since none of the ‘averages’ are participation-weighted (that is, they pay no attention to what FEHB plans Feds actually select), the averages provided by OPM, GovExec, and FedTimes are essentially useless.
I’ll give you the only statistic that matters here, the one that applies to 40 percent of Feds.
For good reasons, most Feds choose one of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) plans, and the BCBS FEHB premiums in 2016 each go up by 10.6% percent (BCBS Basic Family code ‘112’ and BCBS Standard Family code ‘105’).
What’s even more interesting is that the ‘Total Premium‘ (the overall value of the benefit) went up by 9.9% for BCBS Basic Family ($1414.28/ month, was $1286.70 / month) while the Federal Employee Premium (what the employee pays) went up more in proportion (10.6% premium hike- It’s $355.76/month in 2016, was $321.67/month).
As you can see from the 2016 FEHB rate hikes, Healthcare Inflation continues to be a serious problem. One more year like this (a 10% rise in Healthcare Costs), and many of Feds could be paying the ObamaCare ‘Cadillac Tax’ in 2018 (this is not a showroom you want to visit this weekend).
As of 2016 the FEHB SAMBA ‘High’ plans (FEHB code 441 and 442) are precariously close to the ‘Cadillac Tax’ total benefit limits. For example, SAMBA High Self is at $9026/year (the 2018 ‘Cadillac Tax’ kicks in at $10,200), and SAMBA High Family is at $21,663/year (Cadillac Tax for Family Plans is $27,500).
There’s no good answers for Feds trying to save Health Care dollars in this year’s FEHB product offering:
The much ballyhoo’d ‘Self Plus One’ FEHB Option appears to be a real yawner – In the case of BCBS Basic, the savings between a ‘Family’ (FEHB code 112) and ‘Plus One’ (FEHB Code 113) looks like a whopping 8 bucks a month.
For those of you who are looking at possibly saving on Healthcare Costs and switching to a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA), I’ve already made my family a Guinea Pig/Test Case for your entertainment – The results were disastrous. The GubMints family spent far more out of pocket on the year we tried an HDHP/HSA. I think the HDHP/HSA is only prescribed for young single persons who do not have female plumbing.
I’ve mentioned here before that the Affordable Care Act did nothing to make health care more affordable– just more available to folks without full-time employment benefits. There are still no solutions provided to deal with costs and transparency. I’ve ranted about this before, but you know more about the price and quality of your next Flat Screen TV purchase than you do about the knee or hip replacement you might need next month. What a bummer!
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