Readers will note that of the candidate health plans outlined so far, all have based their plan on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. So what is it about his plan?
The FEHBP is a voluntary plan open to federal civilian employees. Actually it's a group of health insurance plans, 190 in all, from which federal civilian employees can choose. Employees can choose between fee-for-service plans and HMOs. There are also organization-specific plans and a government-wide program available. Some features:
coverage is provided without a medical examination or restrictions because of age, current health, or pre-existing conditions;
there are no waiting periods for benefits to kick in after the effective date of enrollment;
there is catastrophic protection against unusually large medical bills; and
you have an opportunity, during annual open seasons, to enroll in a health benefits plan if you are not already enrolled, or if you are enrolled, to change to another plan or option.
The government also offers workers a choice of dental and vision plans. A flexible spending plan is also available.
Employees and the government split the cost of the premium. Rates change each year and are negotiated by the Office of Personnel Management with the individual carriers:
- 2008 premiums for non-postal employees in fee-for-service plans.
- 2008 premiums for non-postal employees in HMOs.
Congress's health care insurance program has been touted by some as the Rolls Royce of plans, but not everyone is thrilled with their coverage.
In fact, each individual plan is not unlike other plans offered by employers in the private sector, but government employees have more choices than most workers in the private sector.