How to Compare FEHB Plans

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By on November 7, 2016 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

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Confused about how to compare FEHB plans for 2017?  You are not alone.

There are a number of factors to consider in addition to cost and availability. The decision is not easy to make and factors are complex.

To see a listing of all plans and what these plans will cost in 2017, check out the health insurance plan rates for the coming year at

Program to Compare FEHB Plans

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has developed an online program to make it easier to narrow down your selection of health insurance plans. The OPM website has a large amount of information and it not that easy to find information there. Here is how to narrow your selection of health care plans.

How to Find and Use the FEHB Comparison Program

First, go to the Health Care Plan comparison page. From here you have several options. If you know the name of the plan you want to research, you can enter that plan name. Or, if you know the plan code you are seeking, you can enter that code.

Here is how the initial search screen appears:

Screenshot showing the initial search form for OPM's FEHB plan comparison tool

Screenshot showing the initial search form for the FEHB plan comparison tool

Many people are unlikely to know the plan code or the exact name of the plan they are seeking. But, for example, if you are searching for a Blue Cross plan, finding it is fairly easy.

Just type “Blue Cross” into the search box and click on search. A second screen will ask questions about your status such as whether you are a non-postal employee, an annuitant, a member of an Indian tribe and other options.

In this example, I selected “Non-Postal” employee. After clicking on “Next”, the program asks how often I am paid. I selected “monthly.”

After clicking on the “Next” box, a list of four Blue Cross plans displays reflecting the criteria selected.

Screenshot showing sample search results comparing FEHB Plans

This screenshot shows an example of the search results for matching health plans

Other search options are also available. For example, if you want to see which plans are available in your zip code, you can just type in your specific zip code. When you do this, and click on “Search”, you will see a list of the plans in your area. The subsequent screens will be similar to what has been described above. This will give you the ability to compare plans of most interest to you.

Comparing Plans

After the program has narrowed down your selection, just click on the plans you wish to compare. If, for example, you want to compare the Blue Cross Standard plan to the Blue Cross Basic plan, select those two boxes and click on “Compare Plans.”

Image of screenshot demonstrating how to compare 2 plans in the search results list using OPM's health plan comparison tool

Example screenshot showing how to compare plans in the search results

You will then see a multi-page document giving information comparing the two plans. In addition to the description numbers for the plan, a range of information will be given to you that will help in a decision of how to choose the most appropriate plan.


Update: Some users have reported that they are encountering errors when using OPM’s plan comparison tool. In our testing, we encountered an error page like the one pictured in the screenshot below which said to “try your request again momentarily” which seemed to be triggered depending on the options selected in the initial search form.

For example, when choosing the “self plus one” option, the error appeared, but it didn’t show up if the “self” or “self and family” options were selected. It also appeared when the “U.S. Postal Service (Category 1)” option was selected under the list of employee types.

In short, it appears OPM is still working on the program so you may encounter the error page for some searches.

Image of screenshot showing error page encountered using the FEHB comparison tool

We wish all readers the best of luck in selecting the most appropriate plan to fit your need for health insurance.

© 2020 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.


About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47