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How federal workers would improve the health benefits plan

Friday, March 26, 2010; B03

Mary Tazewell

Department of Homeland Security employee from Arlington County

I am grateful to have health care in my benefits package and grateful for the many choices of health-care providers. I am not satisfied with the cost. [The Office of Personnel Management] should focus on the sheer numbers of Feds and get a more significant discount for services.

Joseph D. Gillerlain

Retired Naval Academy professor from Crozet, Va.

I would like to see the FEHB programs have an option of "self plus one," similar to what is available under the FEDVIP vision and dental plans.

My wife and I have been empty nesters for about 15 years. We could hopefully enjoy a lower premium than that for the current "self and family" plan, which is a very broad category depending on the number of family members enrolled.

James P. Witeck

Retired Federal Aviation Administration employee from Bethesda

I do want to express my satisfaction with the program. I would like to propose one change. At present there are only two options: self or self and family. Many baby boomers, like myself, have no covered family members anymore, other than our spouses. So for only the two of us, we pay the same premium as a family of three, four, five, six or more. So I recommend that a third option be created to cover just two people, husband and spouse, hopefully with a lower premium than that to be paid by those participating in the family option.

Lynn Richards

Environmental Protection Agency employee from Arlington

I'm a single parent of a 7-year-old. There are just two of us in my household, yet I pay the same health insurance premium as my married colleagues with two, three or four children. Single-parent households and smaller-family households are subsidizing larger-family households. Health insurance should be based on the number of people in the family. The vision program does that -- you can choose the number of people to put on the policy.

Bob Dardano

Library of Congress employee

from the District

Like many of my colleagues, I find the dental coverage to be sorely lacking. I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Although its medical and prescription benefits are great, its dental coverage is horrible. It reimburses me only $22 for a cleaning, not much more for a filling and nothing at all for crowns. I recently paid the dentist $2,800 for a bridge and an extraction. Blue Cross reimbursed me a measly $27, and that was for the extraction. Thankfully, I also pay for supplemental dental insurance with GEHA, and it reimbursed me for about half the cost of the bridge. I'd like to see more insurance companies offer good medical and dental benefits in one package.

Jared Hautamaki

Environmental Protection Agency employee from Silver Spring

I have Federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield and had shoulder surgery in January. I was surprised by the amount I had to pay out of pocket -- nearly $2,500 -- to the hospital, anesthesiologist, OR nurse and surgeon. But I was also surprised at the administrative inefficiency on both sides. I've received more than 25 mailings from BC/BS for "Explanation of Benefits," which are nearly indecipherable to me, a lawyer.

But moreover, I was separately billed by the hospital, surgeon, OR nurse and anesthesiologist. Eliminating the ridiculous amounts of paperwork mailed into a single monthly statement would create large cost savings on the part of BC/BS and could help trim premium increases.

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