Posted on Wednesday, 3rd October 2018 by

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The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently announced that the average 2019 total premiums for current non-Postal employees and retirees enrolled in plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program will increase 1.3 percent, the lowest increase since the 1996 plan year.

Under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), the overall average premium for dental plans will increase by 1.2 percent, while the overall average premium for vision plans will decrease by 2.8 percent.

The Federal Benefits Open Season begins November 12 and ends December 10, 2018. This is the time to review your plan choices and make changes to your FEHB and FEDVIP coverage for the upcoming benefit year that begins January 1, 2019. Federal employees may also use Open Season to elect to make pre-tax contributions to health care and/or dependent care flexible spending accounts under the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS).

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.

Even though OPM will not have plan brochures available for several weeks some of the providers already have information available online for their plans. Blue Cross and Blue Shield FFS is offering a third option this year, their Focus plans. You can compare all of the Blue Cross plans online. The Focus Plans generally have higher out-of-pocket and annual deductibles for members than their other plans. The monthly costs are approximately 30% less expensive than their Basic Plan. For example, if you enrolled in their Self + 1 Basic Plan (113) the monthly costs would be $369.56 compared to just $247.55 for the new FOCUS Self + 1 plan (133).  The premium for their Basic Self + 1 plan monthly premium decreased by $2.76 per month for 2019.

GEHA also has their plan information posted online.  Their Self + 1 Standard Plan (316) monthly premium increased to $273.83, up $17.91 for 2019.

OPM’s Plan Comparison Tool can help enrollees shop for coverage and will contain 2019 plan information beginning the first full week of November.

Changes for 2019 include expanded availability of telehealth services, enhanced chronic condition management, and improved incentives for FEHB enrollees who have enrolled in Medicare Part B. In addition, OPM removed a limit on the amount of premiums that High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) could contribute to an enrollee’s tax-advantaged savings account. As a result, more than one-third of HDHPs will make more money available to enrollees for qualified medical expenses.

Starting with this year’s Open Season, OPM is allowing certain TRICARE-eligible members of the uniformed services and their families to enroll in FEDVIP. Uniformed services retirees and their families may enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan. Uniformed services retirees and their families, as well as active duty family members, can enroll in a FEDVIP vision plan if they have also enrolled in a TRICARE health plan. More information is available at TRICARE.BENEFEDS.com.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

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