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Federal workers to pay more for health care

By Joe Davidson
Ed O'Keefe

By The Post's Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson:

Federal employees will see their health insurance premiums increase at a far higher rate than their pay next year, but less than many private sector workers.

The average increase for enrollees in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will be 7.2 percent, the Office of Personnel Management said Friday. That's significantly more than their average pay raise, which is slated to be 1.4 percent in 2011. In dollars, federal workers will pay, on average, $5.53 more each pay period for self-only coverage and $11.45 more for a family.

Last year's average premium increase was 8.8 percent. Citing estimates by consultants for other large, employer-sponsored insurance plans, OPM said those programs will see increases between 8.9 percent and 10.5 percent.

More federal employees choose Blue Cross Blue Shield's standard option than any other program. Their premium increase will be 6.9 percent for self-coverage and 7.6 percent for a family, according to OPM.

For 2011, "We have eliminated enrollee cost sharing for preventive care services, added incentives for tobacco cessation, and, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act, added coverage for dependents up to age 26," said OPM Director John Berry. Even with these new benefits, premiums will rise less this year than they did last year."

What do you think? How do the rate increases impact you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Joe Davidson  | October 1, 2010; 2:12 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

And you thought ObamaCare was going to cost less and save you money! Another inconvenient truth is now being exposed.

Don't you just love the spin the OPM Director Berry is trying to put on this increase.

Posted by: Jimbo77 | October 1, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Let's see.....federal employees who make much less than their private sector (irrelevant what those studies say as anyone in the private sector in almost all areas make more)...and work hard....are paying more b/c right-wingers want to punish someone to look "cool" to their idiotic base

Posted by: Bious | October 1, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

What the heck is bious going on about? if you're suggesting the premium rise is political then you should blame those in charge of the political branches: democrats.

im so tired of this obsession with health insurance. the vast majority of people would be fine paying out of pocket if they simply put even 75% of what they pay for insurance on an annual basis into a health savings account. oh, but wait congress restricts how much you can put into a health savings account!! government problems require more government "solutions", naturally.

Posted by: dummypants | October 1, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Of course the vast majority would be fine, dummypants. Insurance is about the few who aren't so lucky, and that few changes year to year and decade to decade. The question is whether health savings account would work for the people who have the problems when the need it. How about the young couple, just getting started, who have the $120,000 neonatal bill. This is not a hypothetical. It's happening every day. I'm sure their health savings account is going to do them a lot of good. I don't say these matters are best helped by Government, but that is one option. Our first brush with potential health care impoverishment worked out well, but only because we were lucky enough to have had great insurance coverage from two providers.

Posted by: finserra | October 2, 2010 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Wait....Wait....wasn't the cost of health care supposed to come down with ObamaCare? And I hear a whole lot of folks are losing their previous coverage and yet...we were supposed to be able to keep our doctors....

Spreading the insurance around - take from those who have (who pay for it themselves) and give it to those who don't (who'll get an insurance subsidy from the taxes that are going up for those who pay).

He warned us. We didn't listen and elected him anyway...next to go up - our electricity costs (he promised they'd skyrocket remember?)

Posted by: LMW6 | October 4, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

To all the people who have nothing else better to do with their time than blame President Obama for increases in health insurance premiums, I share these FACTS.

When I initially obtained my individual Blue Cross - Blue Shield policy in April 1999, I was paying $79 a month for I think was a $1,500 deductible and 85/15 percent coverage. Today, I am paying $162 a month for a $10,000 deductible with 75/25 percent coverage (and a lot of other changes). That despite the fact I haven't been to a doctor since a spring 2003. And even then, my broken foot expenses were less than my deductible so I picked up the whole tab on that affair.

Health insurance costs are blowing through the roof for a whole lot of reasons (e.g., lifestyle, inefficiency, medical advances, etc.) Stop blaming President Obama for things he cannot control and for trends that were in place long before he was elected to even the state legislature.

You complain about health insurance costs NOW but where were you between 1999 - 2008 when my premiums were blowing through the roof (15 - 25 percent annual premium increases) and I had to continually chop coverage? Worse yet, I don't dare go to the doctor for fear that using my insurance will cause it to be revoked.

So please folks, start putting the blame where it belongs - on all of us who let this system get out of control long ago.

Posted by: sharontx | October 4, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I didn't elect Blue Cross. I was forced into it by the Bush Administration when they decertified the People Before Profit plan. Of course Blue Cross is one of the largest contributors to the republican party.
HSAs are a dumb idea whose time hasn't come except for those with a lot of disposable income.

Posted by: jbowen431 | October 4, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The cost of Federal Employee Health Care, is not considered when the federal government determines Cost OF Living Adjustments, (COLA). The out of pocket expenses for federal workers is not looked at by OPM when they decided to allow insurance companies to bilk federal moneys from OPM for our health care or shift the inflation onto the federal worker. OPM has provided the federal worker no choice but to use companies that charge the federal workers high premiums. I believe someone should stand up and say premiums increases should be eliminataed. In twenty years my premiums have trippled. I have BC.BS under the federal program and the cost of the premiums do not guarantee better health care. The healh care system is only looking to save money not keep you healthy or take care of terminal illness.

Posted by: bear4tracks | October 4, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Some people making comments apparently can't read: "Last year's average premium increase was 8.8 percent."

The rate of increase came down... That's what we hoped would happen with reform. No one said health care was going to cost less, Pres. Obama wanted to bring the rate of increase down.

Posted by: steveh46 | October 4, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

What about Secretary Sebilius' statement that health insurance should not increase more than 1 to 2 percent? Did OPM know that they were supposed to get us a better rate? Is it okay for federal workers to pay increases of up to 9 percent? Why can't OPM get better rates for federal workers? Why can't federal workers have access to PPO's? Forget the HMO's. I’ve had to switch doctors several times because they no longer accept my HMO. No doctor wants an insurance company to tell them how to treat their patient. How can the Post Office get such great rates? Aren’t they federal workers too? We only have one company to choose from for long term care insurance, 3 companies for vision insurance, 7 companies for dental insurance but more than 18 health insurance plans in some regions to choose from. Why doesn’t OPM limit the number of health insurance plans just as they have limited the long term, dental and vision insurance companies we can choose from? Let the insurance companies compete for our business so we can get better rates. And another thing, why can’t I cancel my insurance any time I want to, not just during Open Season? Why are we locked into paying a contractor (FEDVIP) for a full year of coverage even if we are unhappy with it?

Posted by: taylorp47 | October 4, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mr Obama. My federal retirement check continues to get smaller and smaller. You said Health care would be cheaper for all. I get a 7% increase in my medical insurance premiums this year with no cola to help pay for it. No cola last year either to pay for a 3% increase in my health care premiums. This on top of the tax increases. You wonder why the economy is not improving DUH!

Posted by: maryb5302 | October 4, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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