More on the premium rate release

Thee Washington Post, Federal Times, Govexec, and Federal News Radio all have stories on the OPM press release. FedWeek helpfully identifies the four HMO plans coming into the FEHBP for 2015 and the five HMO plans that are leaving for 2015. “The dropouts affect more than 25,000 enrollees, who will have to elect new coverage for 2015.”

Blue Cross FEP already has posted its 2015 benefit changes. Watch for other plans to follow suit soon.

A couple of the OPM press release stories mention that Postal employee contributions for certain plans will be jumping 19%, more than 4 times the average increase for civil service employees and annuitants. A sharp eyed friend of the FEHBlog pointed out that there is a flaw in OPM’s rate comparison chart for Postal employees. Last year, Postal employee category 1 showed rates for the Postal Service Police. This year Postal employee for the major collective bargaining unit members. So the chart provides an apples to oranges comparison. The FEHBlog trusts that OPM will fix the chart in due course.

Finally, the FEHBlog wants to add a note on the OPM press release not found in any of the articles. The FEHBP carriers, many of whom are FEHBlog clients, deserve a lot of credit for maintaining relatively low premium increases over the past four years. According to the press, OPM officials credit the Affordable Care Act. However, the ACA’s onerous heath insurer tax which falls on most FEHB plans and its transitional reinsurance fee which fall on all FEHB plans for 2014, combined with health care cost trends, are responsible for premium increases. Absent those taxes, the increases would have been materially lower. With the ACA, it’s cost curve up, not down, unfortunately.