The cost of premiums paid by federal employees under the Federal Employee Health Benefits program (FEHB) will increase by an average of 1.5% next year according to the Office of Personnel Management. While this may come as bad news to some, this year’s overall average premium increase is actually the smallest since 1996.
Some individual plan premiums will even have decreases in 2019. Blue Cross, for example, announced that its FEDVIP plans will have premium decreases across their high and standard option offerings, and its premiums in the standard and basic options in the FEHB will not increase next year.
The government contributes about 72% of the total cost of health insurance premiums under the program. The average increase for the government’s portion of the cost will be 1.2%.
The total average increase in health insurance premiums under the FEHB is 1.3%; this includes both the government’s contributions as well as federal employees.
Under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), the overall average premium for dental plans will increase by 1.2%, while the overall average premium for vision plans will decrease by 2.8%.
“These low premium increases testify to OPM’s ongoing commitment to ensure the quality and affordability of insurance benefits,” said OPM Director Dr. Jeff T.H. Pon. “While this announcement is welcome news for Federal employees and retirees, they should continue to carefully review their plan choices to find the plans and enrollment options that best meet their healthcare needs. I urge them to take advantage of the information available to them to choose wisely this Open Season.”
Starting this year, all FEHB carriers may offer three plan options of any plan type. Overall, the FEHB Program will offer 265 health plan choices in 2019. The actual number of choices available to any given enrollee will be lower and will vary by geographic location.
OPM made the announcement ahead of the upcoming open season which is fast approaching. This is the time when federal employees and retirees have to make their benefits selections for the coming year under FEHB, FEDVIP and Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS).
This year’s open season will run from November 12 to December 10.
FEHB plan brochures will be available in early November, and FEDVIP brochures will be available in mid-October.