Another week, another news report to dismay healthcare consumers – this time, federal employees. The Washington Post reports that in 2016, enrollee premiums for federal workers and retirees will rise by 7.4 percent on average, and overall premiums will increase by an average of 6.4 percent. If those seem like small figures, think about it this way: That is the largest increase since 2011. Wow!
Fortunately, the government still pays about 70 percent of the total premium for its employees (even more for U.S. Postal Service workers, though not postal retirees). Regardless, a 7.4 premium increase is no small change. Here’s how it breaks down: Non-postal employees will pay an average of $89.59 per year more for Self Only coverage, $203.40 more per year for Family Coverage and $192.71 more for Self Plus One. For employees who switch to the Self Plus One program, their premiums will only rise by 4.9 percent – a somewhat more manageable figure. Self Plus One, however, is exclusively for earners who only need coverage for themselves and one family member (i.e. a spouse or one child).
The good news is that federal employees have a chance to turn this around for themselves. Open enrollment season for federal workers starts November 9 and continues through December 14; throughout that time, they can change plans or levels of enrollment for the following year. That means it’s the only opportunity they have to look at other plans in search of lower costs, or to switch from a family coverage plan to a Self Plus One program.
It’s important to recognize that within the averages listed above, there is a great deal of variation among health plans. For federal government employees, there are about 250 participating plans total, with each state having its own selection of plans from that pool. Rather than combing through the fine print themselves, federal personnel departments can take advantage of a direct contracting plan that utilizes the most affordable premiums on the market. If you are a federal personnel manager, a GM&A healthcare consultant will be glad to tell you more during a complimentary health plan consultation.