From budgets to benefits, our mailbag overflows

A woman is patted down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
A woman is patted down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/associated Press)
By Joe Davidson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2010; 10:01 PM

The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print. We give readers a chance to speak out by occasionally printing a few of their letters, which may be edited for clarity and length.

The first one concerns the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Open season, during which employees and retirees may choose their insurance plans, runs through Dec. 13, not the erroneous date published in Tuesday's Diary.

I am a retired federal employee. My wife and I are both covered by health and dental insurance. We have no other dependents. The dental plan has three premium rates: single, married and married with other dependents. We therefore pay a higher rate than single individuals but a lower rate than families with dependent children. Has [the Office of Personnel Management] ever considered establishing a three-tier rate structure for health insurance?

As it stands now, by paying the same rates as families with children, it appears that we retirees are basically subsidizing those workers.

- John Pride, Washington

OPM provided this response:

Actually, it is specified in the FEHB law that only two rating categories are defined - self and family. Because FEHB covers retirees, in addition to active employees and their families, the premiums for a self plus one (or married) category have been determined by OPM actuaries to be more costly than the family category for FEHB. So OPM has not pursued a legislative change to this policy.

Airport security

Full-body scans create new friction for airport screeners:

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