Premiums in the nation's biggest group life insurance.

The drop in premiums for basic coverage (equal to the employe's annual salary rounded to the next highest $1,000, plus an additional $2,000) will be effective next month for active employes, and in September for retirees.

The price cut covers basic insurance, the standard optional package and other optional coverage that individuals may purchase.

The cuts were authorized by the Office of Personnel Management following a General Accounting Office study of life insurance premiums requested by Reps. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.) and Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), who jointly chair the Federal Government Service Task Force.

Many younger federal workers have long complained that they can (as many do) get equal coverage at lower premiums outside of the federal program.

But the federal program is favored by many older workers because they generally can't be turned down for coverage or forced to pay higher premiums than others in their age group because of individual medical problems.

Premiums for the basic coverage will drop 15 cents, to $1.85 per pay period for each $1,000 of coverage for workers.

Biweekly premiums (per $10,000 of standard optional coverage) for employes will go down from 55 cents to 40 cents for workers under age 35; from 70 cents to 50 cents for ages 35 through 39; from $1 to 80 cents for those 40-44; from $2.70 to $2.20 for those ages 50 through 54; from $6 to $4.50 every two weeks for those ages 55 through 59, and from $7.50 to $7 for employes 60 and older.

Workers' premiums for optional life insurance (purchased in $1,000 increments) also will drop next month by 3 to 10 cents per pay period.