Although the health insurance hunting season is scheduled to end Dec. 11, federal retirees who have requested forms, information or help from the Office of Personnel Management will have an additional 30 days to make a health insurance selection once OPM mails the form to them.
There are nearly 100,000 retired government workers in the Washington area. Many of them, judging from calls to local members of Congress, OPM and this newspaper, still haven't received health plan kits or change-of-plan forms.
OPM says it has mailed between 1.5 million and 2 million forms to retirees but, as happens every year, some retirees haven't gotten the material because it was sent to an old address, was lost or thrown away by accident or because of some other glitch.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and others have complained to OPM and asked that the deadline for retirees be extended. OPM says it routinely gives retirees extra time if they are having problems getting the material they need to make a health plan selection or getting the forms they need to change plans.
Under OPM guidelines retirees have 30 days from the date OPM actually sends material to them before they must make a health plan decision. That extra time does not apply to regular federal workers who get their health information packets at the office.
The health insurance open season started Nov. 9 and covers all federal workers, retirees, survivors and in some cases ex-spouses of feds looking for the best 1988 health plan. Those who do not act will continue in their current plan next year.
Retirees who have already requested health insurance packets, brochures or other health-plan related items from OPM need do nothing, OPM officials say. You will get the material and will then have 30 days to send your health plan change, if any, to OPM. If you haven't received any information from OPM, or haven't received the change-of-insurance form, Form 2809 EZ, you should write to this address:
OPM, P.O. Box 4198, Iowa City, Iowa, 52244.
Include your civil service retirement claim number.
If you are an active duty federal worker, not a retiree, remember you have only a few weeks to make your health plan selection.Health Plan Options:
Today on WNTR radio (1050 AM) staff members from Washington Health Guide magazine will answer questions about health insurance, coverage and hospital services. The guide explains area medical services and has maps showing where various health maintenance organization facilities are located, as well as a listing of doctors who participate in various programs. Copies are available for $4.50 from the magazine at 11820 Parklawn Drive, Suite 402, Rockville, Md., 20852.
The Senior Executives Association says 67 percent of its members polled oppose a House-passed bill to relax the "no politics" Hatch Act covering civil servants. The bill would let feds take active roles as candidates, campaign managers or fund-raisers while off-duty.
SEA represents career members of the government's senior executive service and says 275 of those who responded opposed the change; 98 favored it and 36 were either undecided or didn't answer that survey question.