Eleven federal health plans, which all have surpluses because subscribers are filing fewer claims, have proposed giving refunds of $18 to $400 to more than 2 million policyholders nationwide. The unprecedented proposal has the blessing of the Reagan administration.
But because of a quirk in the federal health law, only current workers are eligible for the refunds. The House has passed a bill that would extend the refunds to retirees who also are enrolled.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will take up the question of the refunds, part of an omnibus federal health bill introduced by Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), this month. Oakar's bill would reduce federal health premiums, already due to drop an average 6 percent next year, even more by increasing government contributions to employe and retiree premiums.
Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the largest plan in the federal health program with 1.4 million subscribers, has said it will not make refunds to current employes until retirees are included.
The insurance company says that as soon as legislation has cleared the Senate, it will write to subscribers to verify their addresses and eligibility. The size of the refunds depends on the policyholders' plans and whether they have single or family coverage, or high or low option coverage.
Other local health plans offering refunds include the Government Employees Health Assocation, Government Employees Benefit Association, American Federation of Government Employees Health Plan, National Association of Letter Carriers Health Plan, Aetna, and the Foreign Service Health Plan.