A Closer Look at 2024 FEHB Premiums
Federal employees and annuitants will, on average, pay 7.7% more in FEHB premiums next year. OPM cites increased cost and use of prescription drugs, emergency room care, and outpatient care as the primary reasons for the increase in premiums.
How will higher premiums impact your FEHB plan choice this Open Season? We’ll walk you through changes in popular plans, discuss which ones saw their premiums increase above and below the average, provide enrollment advice for two-person families, and discuss FEDVIP dental and vision plan premium changes.
Recent History of FEHB Premium Increases
2024’s 7.7% premium increase is less than 2023’s 8.7% increase, but it’s still much higher than previous years. In 2022, the average enrollee increase was only 3.8%. While no one can predict the future, federal employees and annuitants should prepare to pay higher premiums and a higher rate of increase going forward.
How Premiums are Changing in 2024
While the average enrollee share of premium is going up 7.7%, not all plans reflect that trend. For the 154 FEHB plans available in 2023 and 2024, premiums will decrease in 31 plans, stay the same in 8 plans, increase below the 7.7% average in 68 plans, and increase above the 7.7% average in 47 plans.
Some of the changes are striking. For example, the largest decrease in enrollee share of premium is from the Baylor Scott & White Standard Health Plan (A8), available in Central Texas, which costs 54% less in 2024, saving self-only enrollees around $1,500 next year. Aetna Advantage, a national PPO plan, has the same premium in 2024 as 2023. The largest increase in enrollee share of premium is from Kaiser Permanente High (F8) in the Atlanta, GA, region, which is 22% more in 2024 and will cost self-only enrollees around $1,100 more next year.
How is your plan’s premium changing next year? Even if you’re happy with your existing FEHB plan, it will most likely be more expensive in 2024. Not all premiums rose at the same rate, and there may be new plan bargains available to you, which is why it’s important to know how this for-sure expense will impact your budget in 2024.
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Almost two-thirds of federal employees are enrolled in a Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plan—Standard, Basic, or FEP Blue Focus. How did the BCBS plan premiums change?
Basic increased above the all-plan average, Standard increased just below the average, and FEP Blue Focus increased well below the average.
This upcoming Open Season is a good opportunity to assess whether your current plan is still the best fit for your needs. For Basic and Standard plan members, are you enrolled in the right BCBS plan? Now might be the opportunity for you to save one or two thousand dollars a year in premium by switching to FEP Blue Focus.
Of course, there are many differences between the Standard, Basic, and FEP Blue Focus plans, but four of the most important are Standard is the only one where:
- You can see out-of-network providers,
- Receive skilled nursing care,
- Receive mail-order prescription drugs (Basic has mail-order prescription drug coverage only for annuitants with Part B),
- And receive fertility coverage, including assisted reproductive technology (ART) coverage up to $25,000 annually (a new benefit for 2024).
If you’re enrolled in Standard and don’t use those benefits, you’ll save money switching to Basic or FEP Blue Focus and you’ll get to keep your existing BCBS in-network providers.
Self-Plus-One vs Self & Family Enrollment
Married couples and two-person families can enroll as self-plus-one or self-and-family. Most of the time, self-plus-one is the cheaper enrollment choice, but not always. In 2024, there are 48 FEHB plans where self-&-family enrollment is less expensive than self-plus-one, and 11 plans where the premiums are the same.
There is a sizable amount of money at stake that you could save, or waste, based on your enrollment decision. For example, a two-person family considering the D.C.-area Kaiser High (E3) plan can save $59.68 bi-weekly enrolling as self-&-family compared to self-plus-one. That adds up to $1,552 annually.
You can find premiums by enrollment type on the last page of any FEHB brochure or on the Checkbook Guide. Look for the enrollee share of premium and choose the enrollment option that is cheaper. You receive the same plan benefits regardless of enrollment type.
FEDVIP premiums have historically increased at a much lower rate compared to FEHB plans. For 2024, FEDVIP dental plan premiums will increase 1.4% on average and FEDVIP vision plan premiums will increase by 1.1%.