What are the Highest Rated Federal Employee Benefits?

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By on July 6, 2020 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments
Stethoscope lying on top of a document labeled 'explanation of benefits', FEHB, health insurance

What do federal employees think of their benefits?

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has published its latest Federal Employee Benefits Survey results. This article summarizes some of the most important findings of the new report.

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) and Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) are the programs with the largest enrollment. The enrollment in each of the these programs has been about the same since the 2017 Federal Employee Benefits Survey. No program has had more than a three-percentage point change between annual surveys.

In 2019, 98% of survey participants were enrolled in the TSP, 93% in FERS and 81% in the health benefits program (FEHB).

While participation in FEHB is lower than the two other leading benefit programs, it is largely due to people taking advantage of other health insurance. Out of the 19% of participants who said they were not enrolled in FEHB, the majority (90%) indicated coverage through another program (e.g., TRICARE or a plan where someone else is the policy holder). Less than one percent of respondents said that they are not enrolled in FEHB and do not have health insurance because they do not think there is a need.

Importance and Value of Top 3 Programs

The Thrift Savings Plan is important to 96% of those surveyed. It is the highest-rated benefit program. The retirement annuity (FERS or CSRS) is second with 95% rating the annuity programs as “extremely important” or “important”. The FEHB comes in with 90% of participants providing the highest rating.

The FEHB comes in with a rating of 96% with enrolled participants who indicated the program meets their needs to a “great/moderate extent”. 93% of participants said the TSP met their needs to a great/moderate extent.

88% of TSP participants rated the investment program as an “excellent/good” value. 74% rated the FEHB as an “excellent/good” value. The value ratings reflect responses to the question as “the benefits you receive for your money.”

Importance of FEHB to Recruiting/Retaining Employees

The FEHB appears to be a significant factor in recruiting and retaining Federal employees. In 2019, 70 percent of participants indicated that the availability of health insurance through FEHB influenced their decision to take a job with the Federal Government to a “great” or “moderate” extent. 

In 2019, 80 percent of participants indicated that health insurance through the program influenced their decision to remain with the Federal Government to a “great” or “moderate” extent. This is a one-point decrease since 2017 (81%), but a two-point increase since 2015 (78%). 

Importance of TSP to Attracting and Retaining Federal Employees

69% of respondents indicated the Thrift Savings Plan influenced their decision to go to work for the Federal Government to a “great” or “moderate” extent. 82 percent of participants indicated that the TSP influenced their decision to remain with the Federal Government to a “great” or “moderate” extent.

Importance of the Federal Annuity Plan

The availability of a retirement annuity through FERS or CSRS is considered “extremely important” or “important” to federal employees according to 95% of survey respondents. 79 percent of participants indicated that the availability of a retirement annuity through FERS or CSRS influenced their decision to take a job with the federal government to a “great” or “moderate” extent.

89 percent of participants indicated that a retirement annuity through FERS/CSRS influenced their decision to remain with the Federal Government to a “great” or “moderate” extent.

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

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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

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