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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 9, 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. December 9, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 21 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com The FEHBP has paid the lion's share of medical bills for politicians since its inception. The only reason the government provides such a generous contribution to health plans (roughly 72 percent of the total average premium) is because Congress said it would have to do that. For themselves as much as for you. To get Congress to put itself under the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, the Office of Personnel Management decreed elected officials and their staffs who join health exchanges will continue to have roughly 72 percent of their total premium paid by the government. That premium- sharing percentage ratio will continue in the future even as premiums go up. Over time, the absence of Congress (and bill-writing staffers) from the FEHBP could make a big difference in benefits, premiums and premium-sharing in the federal health program. Instead of using their clout and legislative oversight to make the program better (for them, too) some cost-conscious members of Congress could decide that Uncle Sam could save a bundle of money--- billions over a decade---if he paid a smaller share of the total premium. Or if deduct- ibles were raised. The absence of Congress from the FEHBP program could also revive efforts to put federal workers and retirees under a voucher system. That's a long-time favorite plan for budget-cutters and advocates of managed care. Under the voucher plan, each worker and retiree would be given X number of dollars to purchase his or her own insur- ance. At the beginning, according to past models, the vouchers would be enough to pay the entire premium of some of the lower-premium, higher-deductible plans. But over time, critics say, the vouchers would cover only part of the cost of many plans. That would either force workers (and especially lower-income retirees) to cut back their visits to the doctor, or move into a lower-cost, lower-benefits health plan. Or both. The FEHBP was created by Congress because the private sector generally was doing such a lousy job of providing workers with insurance. Many companies didn't offer it as an option. Or required employees to pay the full premium. Private-sector health plans, especially in smaller companies and businesses, were tailored to the health and family needs of the owner or owners---not necessarily to benefit the workers, and certainly not to benefit retirees. Many private-sector health plans tradi- tionally dropped people when they retired or turned 65. Those that permitted retirees to remain often raised premiums, cut ben- efits or otherwise restricted coverage. The FEHBP offers most federal and postal workers (and retirees) a variety of local Health Maintenance Organizations. The FEHBP also offers a number of High Deductible and Consumer Driven plans which can be very attractive. They give pol- icyholders a fixed amount of money which they can use for medical bills, or keep. Walton Francis, editor of Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans, describes them as the equivalent of a "certificate of deposit on steroids." It is impossible to say what the FEHBP will look like down the road. But by cut- ting itself out of the FEHBP, Congress may have done its members a disservice, at least in the short term. And the fact that the House and Senate will no longer have a vested interest in making the FEHBP the best program out there doesn't bode well for current and future feds and retirees. INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1
Dec 2, 2013
Dec 16, 2013