Participants in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program will experience another increase in their insurance costs in 2024, with premiums rising by an average of 7.7%. This announcement comes ahead of Open Season, during which FEHB participants can make changes to their health coverage for the upcoming year. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) stated that the premium rate increase is in line with those in the commercial market. However, the increase is still higher than in 2019 when participants paid only 1.5% more for their health insurance. Some of the key changes in coverage for 2024 include expanded options for anti-obesity medications, telehealth services for mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and gender-affirming care for transgender individuals. Additionally, FEHB carriers will offer more coverage for prenatal and postpartum care and infertility-related treatments.
In 2024, FEHB participants will have 159 plan options offered by 69 health carriers, a significant decrease from the 271 options available in previous years. The reduction in plan options is primarily due to health carrier Humana exiting the program over the next two years. However, not all participants will have access to every plan option as some are specific to certain geographic regions. FEHB participants will also see relatively low premium rate increases for dental and vision plans, with rates rising by an average of 1.4% and 1.1% respectively. Moreover, the expansion of the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) eligibility to temporary, part-time, seasonal, and U.S. Postal Service employees may have an impact on the program, although the extent is uncertain.
The announced premium rate increase for 2024 is slightly lower than the previous year, but participants and employee associations have expressed concerns over the rising costs. While the government contributes 75% of an FEHB participant’s premium, it is capped at 72% of the weighted average of the previous year’s premiums. The OPM emphasizes the market-based nature of the FEHB program, which allows for choice and competition. However, the increasing costs may lead participants to compare plans and select the most suitable option for themselves and their families. As FEHB participants prepare for Open Season, they are encouraged to explore the available plan options and utilize tools provided by the OPM to aid in their decision-making process.