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Federal Employees News Digest : Sep 16, 2013
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 Public Sector Media 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---$39 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 $39. 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 2013 by 1105 Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproductions or distribution in whole or part prohibited except by site license or reprint purchase. 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. September 16, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 9 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com way. We dislike certain occupations but we like the people in those jobs that we know. We are all very, very lucky to have the only honest lawyer, and the one competent doctor in the business. So where does health insurance, as pro- vided by our health plans, come into the equation? Chances are you think mine is better than yours. I know that I definitely think (know) yours is better than mine. A friend recently informed me that most people in the private sector get free health insurance. That is, that their employer pays all the premiums, whereas he, a retired fed- eral worker, has to pay roughly 28 percent of his premium. So I called an expert on benefits. He said that only a handful of companies, an ever- dwindling handful, pay all the premiums. In fact, most companies don't currently offer health insurance to their workers and most cut off people when they retire. A dozen years ago, about 40 percent of com- panies that offer insurance allowed retirees to keep it. Today that's down to 14 percent. By contrast, the government offers Federal Employees Health Benefits Program coverage to all workers and retirees, chil- dren and sometimes grandchildren. And ex-spouses. And its percentage of the pre- mium share (about 72 percent for white- collar feds, more than 75 percent for postal employees) remains the same even as pre- miums go up. Nobody can be rejected for any reason, and workers and retirees have a wide choice of plans. Certainly more than with any private-sector package. But there are some dark clouds on the horizon for the FEHBP. One reason it has been so good, that it has offered so many options, and the employer share of the premium is so high is that members of Congress---active and retired---have been in the FEHBP, too. Over the years, they have funded and prodded officials who run the program to make it the best in the nation. But that could change for two reasons ... First, members of Congress will leave the FEHBP on Dec. 31. They will be going into health exchanges as set up by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2014. Opponents of the ACA stuck it to themselves. They said it would be hypo- critical of Congress to force others into the ACA while senators and representatives remained insulated in the FEHBP. They were hoping it would result in the repeal of the law. Instead it puts Congress under the ACA. Some Congress-watchers fear that once lawmakers are de-linked from the FEHBP, current and future members of Congress will lose interest in keeping it the best. It would make it easier for legislators to vote to lower the federal share of the premiums, or set up a voucher system that could force lower-income workers to buy less compre- hensive coverage to save money. The second, more indirect, threat to the FEHBP comes from the U.S. Postal Service. To save money, it wanted to close post offices (Congress balked) and elimi- nate Saturday delivery (Congress balked again). Now it wants a stand-alone health plan. It believes it can save money by get- ting out of the FEHBP. Currently about one in every four people covered by the program is a member of the postal family. Some people fear that the USPS might remove retirees from any plan it sets up, forcing them into the FEHBP. Without retirees and their higher medical costs, the Postal Service thinks it could offer equal or better coverage at lower cost to it, and to the remaining employees. Opponents say cutting retirees adrift would hurt both them, and all current and future premium-payers in the FEHBP. Losing younger, healthier postal workers but being forced to keep the more expen- sive retirees could produce "adverse selec- tion" in the health plan. Translation: More heavy-users would equal higher premiums for everybody. The health insurance open season begins in November. There probably won't be any major changes (other than higher premiums) for the 2014 year. But big changes, none of them good, could be coming sooner rather than later. INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1
Sep 9, 2013
Sep 23, 2013