Health Rates Up

Federal employees will pay an average of $86 more next year for self coverage and about $225 more for family coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Office of Personnel Management officials said Friday that FEHBP premiums will increase by an average of 8.5 percent in 1998.

Employees will see an average biweekly increase of about $3.32 for self coverage and about $8.64 for family coverage. The maximum biweekly government contributions in 1998 will be $65.96 for self coverage and $142.27 for family coverage.

"This is the first significant increase in federal health insurance premiums in five years," said OPM acting director Janice Lachance. "We expect that the 1998 increase will be significantly lower than the average private sector increase, as it has been through most of the 1990s."

OPM officials also announced several changes to FEHBP. Next year, managed fee-for-service plans, health maintenance organization plans and point-of-service plans will be required to meet the following standards:

  • Plans must provide coverage for 48 hours of in-patient treatment for normal child delivery and 96 hours of in-patient treatment for a caesarean section.
  • Mastectomy patients must be covered for a minimum in-patient hospital stay of 48 hours.
  • All plans must comply with the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, which eliminates caps on mental-health care reimbursements.
This year's FEHBP open season runs from Nov. 10 to Dec. 8. Stay tuned to's Open Season Guide for more details.
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