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How Will A "Public Option" Health Plan Affect Federal Employees And Retirees In FEHB?

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The House of Representatives is debating the elements of a bill this week (and hopes to pass it before the August Congressional recess) called the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009." The bill would establish a "public option" health plan for Americans.

The complicated, 1,018-page bill does not specifically identify how, if passed, the public option will affect federal employees and retirees who participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB).

However, on page 16 of the bill, under the header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

This has concerned many that the public option may not be as "optional" as promised.

A column in Investor's Business Daily states "...[T]hose who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers." Read the column here.

Opponents to the bill suggest this provision, among many other aspects of the bill (including enrollment mandates, penalties, and taxes), could eventually force most Americans into the public option -- thus eliminating the choices millions of American workers and retirees now have with individual and employer-sponsored health plans (such as the FEHB).

How will the proposed bill, if passed, ultimately affect the short- and long-term health plan choices available to federal employees and retirees enrolled in FEHB?

The answer is not clear. However, there is pressure to pass the bill from both Democratic Congressional leaders and the White House before the end of July. Opponents to the bill have suggested that the long-term consequences of the bill have not been adequately examined, and that more time is needed to review it.

To contact your Congressional Representative regarding this bill and how it affects you as a federal employee or retiree,
click here. Or call (202) 224-3121.

Download the entire proposed bill here.

Posted with permission from: MyFederalRetirement.com



How Will A "Public Option" Health Plan Affect Federal Employees And Retirees In FEHB?
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