WASHINGTON – Due to the recent outcry from the American Federation of Government Employees, OPM has reconsidered drastic new FEHBP changes that would affect more than 4 million federal employees. OPM informed the District of Columbia Subcommittee at the eleventh hour that it will work with Blue Cross/Blue Shield to address beneficiaries’ having to pay 100%, up to $7500, of costs if they use an “out of network” provider for non-emergency surgeries and other services such as colonoscopies, endoscopies, obstetrical deliveries and the treatment of bone fractures and dislocations.
The 2009 benefit change was not widely publicized. “Open enrollment was set to close today,” stated Jacque Simon, AFGE public policy director. “This change would have had serious consequences for those enrolled with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. AFGE is glad that OPM has recognized that it needs to renegotiate its contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield to come up with a solution to this threatened change.”
OPM has advised government agencies to accept enrollment changes after open season, giving federal employees the extra time they need to research all the options available to them.
“AFGE has long decried the fact that although participants pay on average 30% of premiums along with substantial copays and deductibles, we have no voice whatsoever in the annual negotiations over benefits and prices,” concluded Simon. “AFGE urges OPM to insist that Blue Cross Blue/Shield rescind this benefit change, restore the 2008 coverage and refrain from charging federal employees a penny more than the amount already approved for 2009.”