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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Contact: Chad Cowan
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Acts Quickly, Decisively to Ensure Federal Employees, Retirees, and Annuitants Enrolled in Postmasters Benefit Plan Maintain Health Coverage

8,000 Transferred to a new health insurance plan; 6,000 within 24 hours of PBP termination; enrollees will be given additional options in coming weeks

Washington, D.C. - On January 23, 2006, the United States Office of Personnel Management announced the Postmasters Benefit Plan (PBP) offered to federal employees under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program would be dropped from the program and took immediate action to transfer the nearly 8,000 participants to another plan.

The 6,000 retirees and annuitants enrolled in the PBP were transferred by OPM into the Blue Cross Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan Standard option (BCBS) within 24 hours of OPM's announcement regarding PBP. The remaining enrollees, nearly 2,000 active federal employees, were enrolled into BCBS the next day.

"We felt it was important to move quickly to ensure all employees and annuitants had health coverage, hence the transfer of all those affected into Blue Cross," said Linda M. Springer, Director of OPM.

OPM is providing an FEHB Open Season during the month of February so those affected will be able to choose from all available FEHB plans as they would during regular Open Season.

"Our top concern was always the federal employees and retirees and annuitants who would be impacted. We acted quickly to ensure no disruption in health coverage for anyone who would have been affected by the termination," Springer added. "The special Open Season will be held expressly for those who were impacted and would prefer to make another choice."

In addition to the special Open Season, OPM has taken several strategic steps to ensure a seamless transfer of federal employees impacted by the termination of PBP (see below).

"I am extremely proud of OPM's vigilance in safeguarding the health benefits of Federal employees and annuitants and the immediate response to ensuring continuous and reliable coverage," Director Springer said.

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United States Office of Personnel Management

Washington, D.C. 20415

To ensure that the approximately 8000 impacted employees and retirees are provided seamless healthcare coverage, OPM has taken these steps -

  • All PBP enrollees were transferred to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan Standard Option (BCBS) beginning January 24, 2006, the date of the PBP plan termination.

Six thousand of those enrollees were transferred within 24 hours. The remaining enrollees were transferred by close of business on January 26. No PBP enrollees experienced a break in health care coverage.

  • A special Open Season is scheduled from February 1 through February 28, 2006, for those PBP enrollees who do not wish to stay in the BCBS plan.
  • OPM has worked with BCBS to make certain that they will honor all current pre-certifications and pre-authorizations given by PBP prior to January 24, 2006.
  • The PBP prescription card with Benecard will be valid through January 31, 2006 to ensure that members have access to their pharmacy benefits until they receive their new BCBS ID cards. BCBS has sent ID cards by overnight carrier to former PBP enrollees and all of them should have their new cards by Saturday, January 28, 2006.
  • BCBS has also agreed, at our request, to credit PBP enrollees' out of pocket expenses toward the PBP deductibles toward the BCBS deductibles.
  • OPM has also made arrangements with BCBS for transitional care to be provided to enrollees who are being treated for chronic or disabling conditions, or who are in their second or third trimester of pregnancy.
  • A letter was sent to all PBP enrollees on January 26 explaining the change to BCBS. The letter includes the number to call OPM (1-888-767-6738 or TTY/TDD: 1-800-878-5707) if they have any additional questions. They can also call BCBS at 202-942-1221.
  • All active PBP enrollees and annuitants received an e-mail and letter (respectively) reiterating OPM's decision to withdraw the PBP plan from the FEHB and included enrollment options and special Open Season information.
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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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