According to John Church with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  the 2015 COLA will be 1.7%. This is the low range of what many projected of between 1.7 to 2%. We updated our COLA charts  this morning to reflect this change and we post all COLAs back to 1999.
If your annuity is $2,500 a month you can expect an increase of $35 per month or $420 per year! What will we spend this windfall on? Considering that our health care coverage is increasing an average of 3.2% in 2015 much if not all of the increase for many will go to pay our health care premiums. My wife and I subscribe to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Basic plan which will increase to $321.67 per month, an additional $12.37 per month.
The 2015 COLA is .2% more than last year’s 1.5% and the same increase that we received in 2013. Unfortunately for working federal employees our COLA is .7% higher than what their pay raise is estimated to be.
Herb Casey, our Benefits and HR Forum Host, wrote an excellent article titled “It’s FEHB Open Season Tim e” that you will find informative. It mentions a number of things that you need to consider this year when selecting your 2015 plan. We are still waiting for all of the information to be released and will update our FEHB pages as soon as they are available. They have announced the 2015 FEHB premiums so you can begin to look at options and what you can expect to pay next year.
There are major issues to consider this year for many. For example, in our area, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has dropped UPMC physicians and hospitals from their preferred provider network. My wife uses UPMC facilities and doctors so we were initially concerned that we would have to change plans.
Fortunately the two parties entered into a reciprocal agreement  and there are exceptions for Senior Care, under for what is termed Access for Vulnerable Populations, and for circumstances where a patient requires Continuation of Care. Anyone who is 65 and older will still be able to use UPMC doctors as preferred providers. If you have an existing condition at any age you will be able to remain with that physician and receive treatment for your care. The physicians under these circumstances will be considered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield to be in their network and UPMC has agreed to accept their negotiated fees.
Stay tuned for more information as it is released. Open season is fast approaching, November 10, 2014 – December 8, 2014, and there is a lot to consider.
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