By Eric Katz – October 28, 2015
Federal employees will not have to worry about losing their health insurance if the plan in which they are enrolled is dropped from the government’s offerings, a rule finalized on Wednesday ensured.
The Office of Personnel Management issued the final regulation requiring agencies to automatically enroll employees and annuitants into the lowest-cost nationwide plan within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program based on self-only enrollment if their current plan is dropped from FEHBP or discontinued because of a disaster. The new rule will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
The current policy ends such employees’ FEHBP enrollment if they don’t pick a new plan within a certain time frame, typically within the annual Open Season, which runs from early November to early December, or within 60 days of a disaster. Since carriers that decide to leave FEHBP tend to do so at the end of the contract year, under the current policy if feds do not choose a new plan during Open Season, they would have to wait until the next Open Season — a year — to re-enroll.
Retirees whose plans leave FEHBP are currently enrolled in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan that is most similar to their cancelled plan. Under the new rule, they too will be automatically enrolled in the cheapest available nationwide FEHBP plan. Retirees will have 90 days to switch plans after an involuntary enrollment.
OPM will not consider a High Deductible Health Plan, or a plan that requires an association or membership fee, as an option in which to involuntarily enroll participants whose plans were dropped.