Dental, vision insurance premiums to rise in 2011

Federal employees in 2011 will see an increase in the cost of vision and dental coverage on top of a jump in health insurance premiums.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, premiums for dental insurance will rise 3.8 percent and will average $15.33 per pay period for an individual, $30.06 for self plus one and $43.85 for family plans. Vision insurance will go up 3 percent, costing individuals an average of $4.78 per pay period, self plus one enrollees $9.55 and family users $14.11. Dental premiums increased 4.2 percent and vision 2.4 percent in 2010.

OPM said there are no significant changes in the plans offered through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. Enrollees can choose from seven dental plans and three vision plans.

Though changes to FEDVIP plans are minimal, federal employees for the third straight year will see health insurance costs rise more than 7 percent. OPM on Oct. 1 announced a 7.2 percent premium increase for Federal Employees Health Benefits Program enrollees. OPM Director John Berry on Monday said he'd prefer not to increase premiums, but health care costs nationwide are increasing.

"You also have to factor in that we're providing three [new] benefits this year, so we're increasing the benefits while our rate increase is lower than it is in the private sector," he said. OPM estimates private sector health plan premiums will grow between 8.9 percent and 10.6 percent.

FEHBP for the first time will cover tobacco cessation incentives, provide preventative screenings at no cost to enrollees, and extend coverage to adult children up to age 26. Five plans have increased benefits for hearing devices and 16 have expanded coverage for bone marrow and stem cell donor testing. And for the first time, Mail Handlers and GEHA will pick up part of enrollees' Medicare Part B premium.

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