Historically, OPM issues a call letter for benefit and rate proposals in March shortly before the carrier conference. This year, likely due to the impending Administration change, OPM issued the 2018 call letter in early January. In the FEHBlog’s view if OPM is going to issue the call letter early then why not issue a draft call letter for carrier comment like Medicare Advantage does?
The call letter was discussed at the carrier conference last week. Carriers are assembling their benefit and rate proposals which is not the easiest task because not a lot of 2017 claims experience has developed at this point. Carriers continue to wait for OPM’s technical guidance on those proposals which should come out in the next week or so.
2018 may be a particularly tricky year to set rates because OPM mandated for 2017 that FEHB plans provide coverage for applied behavioral analysis to treat autistic children. There may have been pent up interest in this costly but important coverage. Also many plans introduced telehealth benefits. It’s not a lot of time to figure out what’s bending the cost curve up or down.
What’s more, the benefit and rate proposal period now coincides with the HEDIS data collection season. HEDIS is a set of health care quality measures upon which OPM puts a lot of emphasis. Good luck to the carriers with these important efforts.