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Health plan premiums to climb 3.7%

Sep. 24, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Health care premiums will climb 3.7 percent on average in 2014 for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), which covers 8.2 million people.

The Office of Personnel Management announced the new plans and rates Tuesday.

For dental coverage, the average rate increase is less than 1 percent, and rates for vision benefits will actually drop by 1.3 percent on average.

“For the third year in a row, OPM has kept the average premium increases for the FEHB Program under 4 percent, continuing our commitment to provide federal employees, annuitants and their families with the best possible coverage options,” said OPM Acting Director Elaine Kaplan in a statement.

OPM said there are no significant benefits changes for 2014. However, the number of plans will increase by more than 10 percent, for a total of 256.

According to OPM:

“On average, FEHB Program enrollees with self only coverage will pay $3.28 more per bi-weekly pay period, and enrollees with family coverage will pay $7.90 more. Premiums for Health Maintenance Organizations will increase an average of 6.5 percent, while Fee-for-Service plans will see an average increase of 3.1 percent.”

The health care open season goes from Nov. 11 to Dec. 9.

Participants in the largest plan, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Standard Option, will pay another $1.91 per pay period for individual coverage and an extra $4.84 for family coverage, according to OPM.

In negotiating with insurers for next year, OPM was focused “on keeping premium increases as low as possible and ensuring that we have good plan options available,” Jon Foley, the agency’s director of planning and policy analysis, told reporters at a news briefing.

The increase for this year was 3.4 percent. Next year will mark the first time since at least 1980 that increases in the FEHBP’s premiums have stayed below 4 percent for three years in a row, according to John O’Brien, director of health care and insurance at OPM.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a news release shortly after Tuesday’s announcement that any rise in the price of health insurance “places an undue burden on federal employees” in light of a three-year freeze on federal pay scales, unpaid furloughs and the looming threat of a partial government shutdown.

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