Health insurance

For federal employee health insurance, it is never so, but how much?

It is virtually inevitable that health insurance rates for federal employees and retirees will increase each year, and it is no different for 2022.

Participants in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) can expect to pay, on average, about 3.8% more for their health premiums in 2022, the Office of Personnel Management announced on the week. last.

Global premiums will increase – again, on average – by 2.4% next year, with the government’s share increasing by around 1.9% in 2022.

It’s actually a relatively modest bump, at least compared to the last few years. FEHB participants paid an average 4.9% more for their health plans for 2021 and 5.6% more for the previous year.

The rates in 2016 were even higher.

So far nothing can go beyond 2019, when FEHB participants only paid 1.5% more for their health insurance. This was the smallest overall rate increase since 1996 and the smallest increase in premiums for members since 1995. Take the small wins in life.

For 2022, OPM calculated what this information would mean for the average employee’s salary.

Assuming that federal non-postal workers receive a 2.7% pay rise as expected, OPM estimated that the average worker will earn a bi-weekly salary of $ 3,599 next year. Health insurance, on average, will cost employees $ 171.74 for each pay period, or about 4.8% of their wages, OPM said.

That’s a bit more than the current year, where bi-weekly wages averaged $ 3,504 for each pay period and employees paid $ 165.52 for health insurance in 2021, or 4 , 7% of their salaries, said OPM.

It bears repeating; these are averages. Prices increase for some plans in 2022, while others will decrease.

Take a look at what the OPM has posted so far on next year’s bonuses. (The full plan brochures are expected to be released in the weeks leading up to the start of the opening season on November 8.)

A participant enrolled in Blue Cross and Blue Shield Basic will pay an additional $ 3.42 each month for insurance, while an employee enrolled in the Family Plan will pay an additional $ 23.88 per month.

The standard Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan will increase by $ 8.71 per month for individual participants and $ 30.31 for families.

But the cost of a Government Employee Health Administration (GEHA) plan will drop by $ 7.11 per month, with monthly rates for a family plan falling by $ 25.74, according to OPM.

The OPM sets premium rates for a given year based on how federal employees and retirees have used the health care system during the previous year.

Of course, the rising costs of treating chronic diseases, prescription drugs, and advances in medical technology continue to drive up healthcare prices, OPM said.

But the pandemic continues to make it difficult to predict annual FEHB premium rates, to say the least.

Some carriers have told OPM that the costs of treating and testing COVID-19 patients are impacting their rates, although perhaps not huge in the grand scheme of things.

COVID-19 tests and treatments cost the FEHBP around $ 1 billion in 2020 and accounted for around 2% of the program’s claims.

The OPM said it expects those costs to come down eventually, especially as more employees get vaccinated.

When asked for more details on why 2022 rates have remained relatively modest, OPM told us:

“Actual trends for 2020 were lower than forecast when setting 2021 rates, largely due to the unknown future trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency said. “The 2022 tariffs incorporate the actual trends of 2020 and the experience of 2021 to date, as well as the cost projections for the remainder of the year and up to 2022. The 2022 tariff increase has also been offset. by the expected savings thanks to several renegotiations of carriers with their managers of pharmaceutical benefits. “

In other words, the federal government made less frequent use of the health care system in this first year of the pandemic, as it delayed elective surgeries and other semi-optional procedures.

This is starting to change. The OPM said it was starting to see FEHB participants filing more claims as they made more regular doctor visits or planned procedures they initially delayed. This trend is likely to continue into 2022 and could impact premiums in years to come.

“We are still in a unique situation with the pandemic,” Greg Klingler, director of operations for the Government Employees’ Benefits Association (GEBA) told me. “We’ve really never seen a pandemic like this since, I guess, 1918, and obviously the FEHB plan was not in effect at that time. I think everyone is walking new waters here.