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With the December 14 deadline for Federal employees and retirees to make benefit changes quickly approaching, I want to make sure you have all of the answers you need to make the best possible decisions for you and your family.
Today at 1:30 p.m. ET, OPM will host a special #FedBenefits Twitter chat. OPM program experts will answer your questions on health care, vision, dental, and flexible spending account benefits.
As I mentioned last month, beginning in 2016 all carriers will offer three enrollment types: Self Only, Self Plus One, and Self and Family. This Open Season is your first opportunity to enroll in Self Plus One, which allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member, such as a spouse or child.
During the Twitter chat, our experts can clarify terms and help you compare plan features. It’s the perfect way to make sure you have the best information at your fingertips to make a decision by the December 14 deadline.
Just join us at 1:30 p.m. today on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USOPM and tweet your questions using hashtag #FedBenefits. We’ll get to as many questions as we can during the hour. Also, you can tweet your questions in advance of the event.
And of course, you don’t have to wait until the Twitter chat to get answers. Any time between now and the deadline, you can go to www.opm.gov/openseason or speak to your local HR office to get the latest information.
John O’Brien is the Director of Healthcare and Insurance for OPM.
Today, I visited Tampa, Florida to join in the final effort to enroll people in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. During this open enrollment period, I’ve visited nine communities to talk with people about the importance of getting affordable, quality health care coverage for themselves, their families, their friends, and their neighbors. Many of my visits were to predominantly Latino communities, where uninsured rates are high and the need for coverage is great.
As we near the end of the enrollment period on Sunday, I’m thinking about the many people who have worked so hard to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act and who have helped so many people get enrolled. During my stops in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois, I have been privileged to see just how powerful the work of our local communities has been in getting people the health care they need.
I was honored to be standing side by side with the city and state officials who organized events to focus attention on open enrollment. I also want to recognize the incredible work of so many volunteers who guided people through the process day after day and mobilized their communities. Millions of Americans now have the quality and affordable coverage they need, so that if they have to deal with a difficult and serious illness they won’t also have to worry about going bankrupt. And it’s because of their efforts.
Health care is personal for me. I know what it’s like to deal with a serious family illness and the great relief that comes with knowing a loved one can get needed care because of good, quality health insurance. I’m grateful that because of the Affordable Care Act, all Americans now have access to this security. It is comforting to know that no one will be turned away because of a pre-existing illness, that women will not be charged higher rates because they can have children, and that thousands of people who could not afford coverage now have insurance under Medicaid.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many people, who believe as I do that affordable health care is fundamental to a society committed to liberty and equality, this open enrollment season will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans.
Today, I am excited to announce that the overall average premium increase for employee health benefits provided through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will be 3.2 percent for 2015.
The health insurance increase means employees with self-only coverage will pay an average $2.93 more in each bi-weekly pay period. Employees with family coverage can expect an average increase of $6.89 per pay period. The actual premium increases depend on which plans they choose.
These rate increases are proof that OPM continues to provide Federal employees, retirees and their families with the best possible coverage options. The FEHB Program delivers competitive rates and high quality benefits through an efficiently run system. These benefits also help us to attract and retain top talent in the Federal service. In 2015, there will be 257 health plans, with 11 of them available nationwide.
Also, as a result of the President’s Affordable Care Act, the FEHB program covers more than 400,000 young people between the ages of 22 and 26 under their parents’ plans. The ACA has not only expanded coverage for uninsured Americans, it has increased competition and accountability. Those improvements, along with the increased efficiency in the health care system, have resulted in lower cost increases in the FEHB and elsewhere. The FEHB Program offers comprehensive preventive services at no cost, also mandated by the ACA. And many plans provide incentives for participation in wellness activities.
This fall’s Open Season for health, dental and vision insurance, as well as for the flexible spending accounts, will be from November 10 to December 8. During that time, employees and retirees will have the chance to review their current plans and make any changes they desire for the following year. Eligible employees who are not currently a part of FEHB may also enroll for the first time. I urge all Federal employees to take this time to review their plan choices and decide what is best for their families.
This is also the first time employees will be able to enroll in the flexible spending account program for just a $100 minimum deposit. And for the first time, participants in the health care flexible spending account will be able to carry up to $500 of unused funds into the following year.
More detailed breakdowns of the FEHB Program premium rates and the FEDVIP rates are available at OPM.gov. Employees can also use some handy comparison tools on the site to find the plan that works best for them.
It is so important to me that everyone in our Federal family has the peace of mind to know that they and their loved ones are protected and covered for life’s health emergencies and for the preventive care that helps keeps us all safe and secure. I’m happy to report that once again, your FEHB Program is providing these benefits at a cost that is affordable to our deserving, hard-working Federal workforce.
Today is it. This is the last day for Americans to enroll in an Affordable Care Act Marketplace. And I want to make a special appeal to the Latino community to keep working until the last minute to get the word out.
In the past month I’ve traveled to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Houston, Miami and Phoenix. I’ve concentrated on the Latino community because we lack health insurance in greater numbers than others. I am determined to get us covered – NOW.
We heard last week that more than 6 million Americans have signed up and that the virtual lines are long in the Marketplaces. That’s great. But we can’t let up.
In order to be assured of health coverage for the coming year enrollees have to have started the sign up process by midnight. Just like on an Election Day, as long as people are in line before midnight they’ll be given time to complete the enrollment process.
The resources are there for Latinos. In addition to healthcare.gov there is cuidadodesalud.gov. The call center – 1-800-318-2596 - has Spanish speaking operators waiting to help.
This is it. Spread the word anyway you can.
Let’s get everyone covered NOW!
We learned today that more than 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance so far in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
This important milestone means that more than 6 million Americans can count on affordable, quality health care. It means they don’t have to worry about insurance companies refusing to cover them because they are sick or have a preexisting condition. It means 6 million Americans don’t have to worry about how they will pay a hospital bill if they or someone in their family gets sick.
In the past month I have been to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Miami, Houston and Phoenix to spread the word about the need for all uninsured Americans to sign up for health insurance, particularly Latinos, who have a higher uninsured rate than most Americans and more health risk factors.
At one enrollment site in Phoenix, 300 people had waited on line just on Wednesday to get signed up. And nationwide on Wednesday there were 1.5 million visits to healthcare.gov and the call center received more than 430,000 calls.
6 million is great. But our work is not yet done. We have four days left. We all need to spread the word to our friends, our families, our colleagues, our neighbors. Enroll in the Marketplace.
Tell them to go to healthcare.gov. Tell them to go to cuidadodesalud.gov. Tell them to call the 1-800-318-2596 call center 24 hours a day.
Let’s get everyone covered now!
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