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Federal Employees News Digest : Oct. 1, 2012
INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1 Kristi Dougherty General Manager Phil Piemonte Managing Editor Sherkiya Wedgeworth Online Managing Editor Becky Fenton Circulation Manager Nathan Abse Writer Mike Causey Columnist Edward Zurndorfer Columnist Published by 1105 Government Information Group, Anne Armstrong, President. 1105 Government Information Group is part of 1105 Media, Inc. Neal Vitale, CEO. Corporate Headquarters: 1105 Media, Inc. 9201 Oakdale Ave., Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311 www.1105media.com Office: 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500 Vienna, VA 22182-2215 Phone: Editorial: (703) 891-8554 Subscriptions: (800) 989-3363 Fax: (703) 876-5130 Internet: www.FederalDaily.com Subscription Rates: 1 year---$99 Site Licenses are available: E-mail: FENDsitelicense@ FederalDaily.com For single article reprints (in minimum quantities of 250-500), e-prints, plaques and posters contact: PARS International Phone: (212) 221-9595 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.magreprints.com/QuickQuote.asp The Comptroller General has ruled that federal agen- cies and departments may buy Federal Employees News Digest publications with government funds. This decision is No. B-185591. Federal Tax ID 20-4583700. DUNS #612031414. FEDERAL EMPLOYEES NEWS DIGEST (ISSN 1065-0970) is published weekly except first week in January and last week in December by 1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Annual subscription rate is: US $99. Subscription inquiries and customer service: Mail to: Federal Employees News Digest, PO Box 15428, N. Hollywood, CA 91615-5428, customerservice@feder- aldaily.com or call (800) 989-3363, fax (818) 487-4550. © Copyright 2012 by 1105 Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproductions inwhole or part prohibited except by written permission. Mail requests to "Permissions Editor," c/o Federal Employees News Digest, 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500, Vienna, VA 22182-2215 or editor@ federaldaily.com. The information in this newsletter has not undergone any formal testing by 1105 Media, Inc. and is dis- tributed without any warranty expressed or implied. Implementation or use of any information contained herein is the reader's sole responsibility. While the information has been reviewed for accuracy, there is no guarantee that the same or similar results may be achieved in all environments. Technical inaccuracies may result from printing errors and/or new develop- ments in the industry. This publication's subscriber list, as well as other lists from 1105 Media, Inc., is available for rental. For more information, please contact our list manager, Merit Direct. Phone: (914) 368-1000; E-mail: 1105media@ meritdirect.com; Web: www.meritdirect.com/1105. October 1, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 12 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com Where would talk radio be if everybody agreed? What if everybody was satisfied getting around by horse? Or walking out to the well-house to draw a bucket of water? People who are content rarely invent anything. The chronic complainers are more likely to be agents of change. Which may explain why some federal workers and retirees are delighted that FEHB health insurance premiums are "only" going up an average of 3.7 percent, while others---maybe at the same grade level, doing the same job in the same agency---are enraged. And both types are out there, trust me on that. When the news of the 2013 pre- mium changes came out, feds flooded the media with comments. Many, prob- ably most, were unhappy or angry. We assume, right or wrong, that people are more likely to react---that is, call, com- ment or email---when they are unhappy about a subject. The half-fullers are mostly content to let things ride. Or not feel compelled to comment. Most feds with complaints cited the fact that they haven't had a pay raise in two years. Yet their bills, and now health premiums, are going up. And the increase will take place in spite of the fact that 2013 is going to be another year in the freezer for white-collar feds. Others blame the government for not holding the lid on medical prices. For not negotiating better deals. Or for not increasing the government share of pre- miums (now just over 70 percent) even more. They say that special interest groups, politicians and ambulance-chasing law- yers force doctors and hospitals to make unnecessary tests to protect their, uh, wal- lets. Anyhow, that it is somebody's fault. Somebody is not shaking the tree hard enough. As Arthur A. said: "...this is a terrible blow to morale government-wide. Our pay has been frozen for two years, prices for everything have gone up ... yet they do nothing to consider this and continue to let FEHBP premiums go up. Very dis- gusted." By contrast, this from Tim of the IRS: "Let me be the first to respond to the health plan increases. Put me down as a lucky guy. I have a job, have not been furloughed and none of my benefits have been cut. Even though my premiums are going up, the government continues to pay most of the premium. Call me lucky!" One half-empty, one half-full heard from. I was once lucky to be lured away from my long-time newspaper job (which I loved and where I had lots of friends) to go with another outfit. I had practically grown up at the paper and figured I would probably retire from it. But the other offer included a 60 percent pay raise (I was offered 40 percent more to stay), and a six-figure signing bonus. Up front. Suffice to say I took the job. No regrets. It lasted only one year, but it was a great ride. Then they fired all of us on the media side. Most right before Christmas. My assistant and I got an extension through March. One thing I learned from that experi- ence is that a COBRA isn't just a basket- dwelling snake in India. COBRA is what happens when you lose your company- sponsored health insurance. What hap- pens is that you can continue coverage, but you have to pay the full freight. And sometimes a carrying cost. That, you learn, is a lot of money. Example: Suppose you have Blue Cross Blue Shield's popular basic plan. Next year, if you are a nonpostal fed, you will pay $59.07 biweekly for self-only coverage and $138.32 for family coverage. That's a slight increase from 2012 premiums for that plan. But if you quit or lose your job and you had to COBRA, that is, pay your share and the share the government will pay in 2013, your biweekly premium totals would be $225.02 and $563.31. That's a lot of dough Back to the 2013 premium increase. The glass-half-full people might say they are lucky to have insurance, lucky to have so many choices and lucky to have the government pay 70 cents of every pre- mium dollar. The leading cause of bank- ruptcies is medical bills. The glass-half-empty type might say it is ridiculous that the government doesn't pay all the premium, and that it should do more to hold prices down, especially in a time of pay freezes. And ask why the gov- ernment can't demand better deals from doctors and drug companies. Bottom line: Most of us are full of it.
Sept. 24, 2012
Oct. 8, 2012