“While details about the rates for current enrollees are still being finalized, it is expected that rates will increase as is occurring across the industry” for reasons such as longer lifespans and low returns on investments of the program’s trust fund, OPM press secretary Sam Schumach said.
“To address the expected increases, OPM is working with John Hancock to ensure that whenever possible, policyholders will be offered different policy options to help mitigate or offset the effects of any increase they may experience. The new rate change will take effect no earlier than Fall 2016. We will have more information about the specifics in the near future,” he said in an email.
Federal employees, retirees and certain family members are eligible for the coverage, as are military personnel, retirees and their family members; about 274,000 people across all those categories have coverage. Eligible persons may enroll at any time, although they must go through an underwriting process.
Those who are approved may choose among different maximum daily payment amounts, length of coverage and inflation protection, all of which affect the premiums — as does the person’s age at enrollment. Enrollees pay the full cost of the premiums with no government contribution.
Those who have first enrolled since Aug. 1 already are paying higher rates than those who enrolled before.
Rates also generally increased the last time OPM issued a new contract, in 2009. At that time, it allowed enrollees to change their benefit elections to keep their costs roughly the same, for example by reducing the daily benefit amount. Schumach said that a similar approach will be followed this time.
However, rates likely will be unchanged for certain categories of enrollees, he said, including those first joining the program at age 80 and above.
John Hancock was the only bidder in the latest contract solicitation; it has provided the coverage since the program began in 2002.
The latest award was first reported by Federal News Radio.