With a national debate still going on as the new national health care plan (Obamacare) is taking effect, what do federal employees think of the new system?
This week, we asked their views on being included in the new health care exchanges. There is apparently little debate among the federal workforce. Federal employees do not want to be part of the new system. Instead, they prefer to keep their current health plan based on a survey with about 2500 readers responding. Employees who are already retired have a much stronger negative reaction to being moved to a new system. Those with more than 15 years until retirement are not as unanimous in their opposition to moving into the new health care exchanges.
Congress and Congressional staff do not have a choice but won’t have to foot the bill of being in the new system. In a ruling issued this week, lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a federal contribution toward the health insurance that they must purchase through the health care exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation.
In effect, they will be leaving the federal employee health care program and going into the new system but with the federal government still picking up most of the cost just as is done under the federal employee program. The new health care legislation included a requirement that Congressional members and their staffs would have to join the new exchanges. The author of this successful amendment, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, argued that if Obamacare plans were good enough for the American public, they were good enough for Congress. Democrats, who were eager to pass the health care legislation, which most had not read, passed the legislation with the amendment included.
As noted in an article earlier this week, legislation has been introduced to also move federal employees into the health care exchanges and out of the current federal employee health insurance program.
We asked readers their views on leaving the current federal health insurance program and joining the new exchanges. The results were definitive with 92.3% of those responding to the survey preferring to continue in the current program.
|Do you think federal employees should be required to use the health insurance exchanges or continue to use the current health insurance program?|
|Become part of the exchanges||2.8%|
|Continue with the current health insurance program (FEHBP)||92.3%|
With regard to federal retirees, the results were even more lopsided:
|Should federal employees be allowed to carry their health insurance into retirement as is currently the case or should they be required to enroll in Medicare?|
|Continue current program for retirees||96.1%|
|Require enrollment in Medicare in lieu of current program||3.9%|
Different Perspective From Those Retired And Newer Federal Employees
27.4% of those responding to the survey are already retired federal employees. 41.1% indicated they would be eligible to retire in the next five years. 13.2% will not retire for more than 15 years.
Of those who are already retired, 97.6% said they should be allowed to keep their existing insurance rather than being forced into Medicare. But, among those with more than 15 years until retirement, 90.7% said they should be allowed to keep their existing insurance and 9.3% said being required to enroll in Medicare would be preferable.
Also, among those with more than 15 years until retirement, a smaller percentage preferred being able to keep their enrollment in the current federal employee health insurance program. Among this group, 87.6% preferred keeping the existing federal employee system. 7.5% said they should become part of the new health care exchanges and 5% were not sure.
Comments from Readers
Why are readers so opposed to the new health insurance program?
More than 800 submitted written comments expressing their views. Here are a few representative comments.
- The ongoing attack and erosion of Federal employee benefits is very troubling. Federal employees take an oath of loyalty and perform much needed public services. Yet, we seem to be dispised for our service. Stop this unwarranted on Federal employees — it is unwarranted!!!
- leave our healtcare program alone NO Obamacare!!!
- Is it legal to change the promise made to retired federal employees to have FEHBP in retireement?
- If the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court, along with all their staffs, are required to go under Affordable Healthcare Act, I would not object. But if it’s not good enough for the heads of the 3 branches of Government, it isn’t good enough for the rest of us.
- Obamacare is for people who have no other option for health care. I pay good money for good health care. What kind of care do you expect from this system? I expect the worst treatment because we are held hostage to the system.
- The only federal employees that should go into the exchanges are the ones the voted for this president. I saw through his smoke screen and mirrors.
- The insurance exchanges are for people who generally don’t get insurance through their employers? Why is the question of placing Federal employees in the exchange even a question?
- FEHBP is one of the best health insurance programs around. Given the chose, one would be foolish to go into anything connected with Obamacare.
- “What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander” is what I say and since the Executive Branch stresses that this is the best thing since sliced bread; Leadership and the abidcation of leadership is an issue here. Why would the rest of American Citizens want to trust this program when Federal Employees (all members of the Executive Branch) and employees from the Legislative Branch want no part of it?????
- I didn’t want Obamacare before it became law and I don’t want it now, either. I don’t particularly want Medicare but, since I have paid Medicare taxes for all the years I have worked, I will use it when I retire–in addition to having secondary medical insurance to help cover what Medicare doesn’t cover.
- Obama care disgusts me! The exchanges are fraud with inept, incompetent morons set to access my personal information! Repeal NOW!!!!!
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
- I do not like the idea of making ObamaCare a monopoly — one system for all Americans. However, I do agree that the White House and Congress should be required to be part of anything they pass for Americans — in this case, ObamaCare. Then, when they “live it”, they will know how to improve it.
- The move to require federal employees to purchase health insurance through the AHCA exchanges is either due to a misunderstanding of the Act, politically motivated ill will toward public employees, or both. The exchanges have nothing to do with employees, public or private, who get health insurance through an employer group health insurance plan. The exchanges were created to help uninsured and self-employed individuals obtain health insurance at lower cost through a de facto group health plan. The exchanges were not created for employees already on group health plans. And it would be patently unfair and contrary to the intent of the law to single out public employees by removing them from their existing group plan.
- It would be unjust to change the rules after I have spent the majority of my working life in a public service career that is not as lucrative as the private sector when the career decision to forgo private sector lucre now was in large part made in response to the promise that benefits would be much better for public service employees when they retire. I relied upon and take action in response to the promises that were made, so not living up to the promises amount to a fraud that changed my entire career path.
- Retirees should maintain coverages they were promised when hired and had during their careers. They have planned their futures based on the benefits they were promised and for which they EARNED.
- Our benefits become even more important as our pay fails to keep up
- I made bets when Obamacare was passed that government employees would be the lab rats but it should be MANDATORY that ALL government personnel use the same. Politicians know it sucks or they would be in front of the line but there is no line is there. I personally do not like socialism.
- As a federal employee, I want to keep what I have because it is a good system that works. As a taxpayer, I am disgusted with the federal system and should have to join the health care exchange like everyone else. The whole medical “issue” was in reality a non-starter, just hyped up with the media and made into an issue.
- Should grandfather those already in the system, but change for ALL new fires eff 1 Jan 14. This has to INCLUDE Congress and their aides. Everyone or no one gets penalized by the Obamacare.
- Obama care is designed for those who do not have insure or to force business who do not provide insurance to employees to do so. The existing plans are fine for those already enrolled. This appears to be a step towards socialized medicine, plus will eliminate competition within the medical industry.
Our thanks to those who took the time to vote in this survey and a special thanks to those readers who submitted their written comments.