Bracing for a 50 percent health premium hike

Health premiums for folks covered by the Affordable Care Act will jump 50-to-57 percent next year, but federal workers and retirees get a pass.

The 6.1 percent average increase in federal-postal-retiree health plan premiums coming in 2018 is tiny, compared to what’s happening in the private sector.

FEHBP stands for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. It covers 8.3 million current and retired feds, their spouses, children and in some cases ex-spouses, too. The FEHBP next year will offer 245 plan choices, most local Health Maintenance Organizations, and a choice of 15-to-17 national plans with a wide range of premiums.

Uncle Sam picks up an average of 72 percent of the total premium for nonpostal federal workers and retirees, regardless of which plan they pick, or their annual salary or annuity. That looks increasingly good when compared to the “other” federal health program for people who do not work for the federal government.

In that other plan — the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare” — premiums for many in the private sector will be going up 50 percent or more next year, according to the New York Times.

It said that ACA plan premiums in Georgia will jump 57.5 percent, while the “average rate increase will be about 45 percent” in Florida. Federal workers and retirees in those states, and other states hit with big premium increases, will not be affected.

The newspaper said that there are some exceptions to the ACA premium rise. It reported that prices for ACA plans in Minnesota will remain stable or even drop somewhat, because the state said it is seeking “a federal waiver to address the high cost of premiums,” which the state said will let them remain at their current levels.

The government subsidizes premiums for about 85 percent of the roughly 10 million people the Times said buy insurance through the marketplaces established by the ACA.

Bottom line: While many people are upset about the higher FEHBP premiums, when compared to the projected 1.9 percent 2018 pay raise, people covered by it have a much wider range of plans and premiums to choose from during the open season that begins Nov. 13 and runs through Dec. 11.

There are many times when federal and postal workers, for good reason, envy their friends and relatives in the private sector.

But this is definitely not one of those times.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Steff Thomas

Have a sweet tooth? Well, honey is one of the only foods to never expire. The same honey buried with the pharaohs in Egypt is still edible. Other (almost) never expiring foods are: Rice, white vinegar, true vanilla extract, salt, cornstarch, real maple syrup, etc.

Source: Huffington Post

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