During a period when federal pay is frozen for two years, the average increase in employees’ health insurance premiums for 2012 will be the lowest since 2008.

The 3.8 percent hike is about half of the 7.3 percent increase in premiums for 2011, the Office of Personnel Management announced Tuesday.

“Our most popular plan [Blue Cross Blue Shield standard plan] is increasing rates by just 1.6 percent, saving money for our employees and all taxpayers.  Other plans also have low rate increases,” said OPM Director John Berry. “With an emphasis on preventive medicine and keeping costs low, we’ve been able to deliver quality care at affordable rates.

“These benefits help us compete for the top talent we need to tackle our nation’s challenges, and they keep our workers healthier and more productive as they serve and protect the American people."

According to an OPM fact sheet: “Changes in each enrollee’s share of premiums vary from plan to plan.  On average, enrollees with self only coverage will pay $2.32 more per bi-weekly pay period; enrollees with family coverage will pay $6.18 more.

“Enrollees with self only coverage in the popular Blue Cross and Blue Shield Standard Option will pay $.81 less per biweekly pay period in 2012 than this year and enrollees with family coverage will pay $.72 less each pay period.”

No significant benefit changes were announced for 2012.

Staff writer Eric Yoder contributed to this report.

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