The New Health Insurance Rates Can Only Mean One Thing
Open season is around the corner.
Health insurance open season starts Nov. 8, just a little more than a month from now. It always reminds me of situations like the time a few years ago when I was told about an elderly retiree living in the region of a Federal Employees Health Benefits Program plan whose monthly rates went up by several hundred dollars. This retiree wasn’t aware of the increase until she received her Feb. 1 annuity payment and realized it wasn’t enough to cover her monthly expenses.
Luckily, she hadn’t used the one-time Medicare qualifying life event provision, which allows a change in health coverage any time beginning 30 days before becoming eligible for Medicare. She was able to switch to a plan that was not only less expensive for the current year, but also saved her a substantial amount in monthly premiums as well as out of pocket expenses over her prior year’s costs.
Earlier this week the Office of Personnel Management announced the plans and premiums for 2022. The average premium increase for non-postal employees and retirees will be 3.8%. Once again, employees, retirees, and survivor annuitants will be able to evaluate their health coverage and explore a variety of plans and options available in their area.
Of course, the average increase isn’t necessarily what you’ll be paying. It could be more or it could be less. For example, many people enrolled in one of the Aetna Open Access High or Basic option plans in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania or Ohio will see increases of hundreds of dollars per month in their premiums. But a few Aetna Open Access HMO plans in these areas went down a little.
OPM also unveiled premiums for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. The average increase of these plans will be less than 1%. There are 7.2 million enrollees in FEDVIP plans and next year there will be 12 dental plans offering 23 options along with five vision plans each offering a high and standard option.
Be sure to check the dental and vision benefits that are included with your FEHBP plan before enrolling in a FEDVIP plan. If you’re anticipating needing moderate to extensive dental work in 2022 or you need new eyeglasses or contact lens refills, these plans may save you more than the cost of the premiums. All of the FEDVIP plans offer preventative care at no cost, but in most cases you must use a network provider. Although many plans offer out-of-network benefits, they come with higher out-of-pocket costs.
Be sure to check out the new rates on OPM’s website. If nothing else, make sure your plan is still being offered next year and see its rates. As is the case most every year, several plans in specific areas are leaving FEHBP and others are adding or changing enrollment codes, terminating options, or expanding service areas.
Once plan brochures are available, usually about a week before open season begins, check the cover of your brochure for the pages that provide the rates and changes for 2022 along with a summary of your benefits. Sometimes, you may find the 2022 information on your FEHBP plan website popping up a little earlier in October.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for open season shopping tips and a suggested to-do list.