Open season kicks off


Open season, the annual period during which federal workers can switch enrollments in health insurance plans, officially began Monday.

Federal employees are able to make changes to their health insurance coverage through Dec. 10. Enrollment changes take effect the first pay period in 2013. The Office of Personnel Management in September announced that premiums for nonpostal employees will increase an average of 3.4 percent in 2013; of that increase, government contributions will rise 3.3 percent, while participants will pay 3.7 percent more in 2013. Changes in the enrollee share of premiums vary by plan, so some people pay less than the average premium increase, while others shell out more.

While many Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan enrollees report being pleased with their coverage, according to a Government Executive poll this fall, many have complained of double-digit increases when it comes to premiums, co-payments and prescription drugs. Some also have expressed concern over specific coverage options -- the lack of a self-plus-one option, for example -- and subsidizing health care costs for the entire recipient pool. Those concerns could prompt some people to sign up for different coverage during open season.

Various factors typically affect health care premium rate increases, including an aging population, benefit changes and enrollees switching plans. OPM assesses annual increases in part by using a framework that assumes no one will change plans, though the agency knows there will be movement. The annual average premium rate increase for FEHBP enrollees has experienced ups and downs throughout the years. The 3.4 percent total average premium increase in 2013 is the smallest average increase for the program since 2008, when it was 2.8 percent. Average rate increases spiked between 2009 and 2011, hitting 7.4 percent in 2010. That year the average contribution rate for employees was a whopping 8.8 percent.

Check out our latest coverage of FEHB and open season here.

(Image via Clover/

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