2022 FEHB Program Changes
Finally, starting several years ago OPM has asked plans to adopt cost-saving coordination with Medicare, a reform that saves money for the program because Medicare usually pays first, which reduces FEHB premiums, and also offers savings for annuitants because their out-of-pocket costs are reduced. Most national plans already had such “wraparound” benefits. Dozens of local plans have now added them. Most annuitants with both Parts A and B of Medicare now can enroll in a wide range of all plan types—PPO, HDHP, CDHP, and HMO—that provide these savings. OPM now also allows plans to reimburse enrollees for part of the cost of Medicare Part B premiums, and use of this technique is growing fast. But the biggest change is that plans are now allowed to offer special “Medicare Advantage” plans to their enrollees as part of their FEHB enrollment. Medicare Advantage is an insurance program modelled after the FEHB program but with added improvements, and now attracts over one-fourth of Medicare enrollees. This new feature started small, but there are now over seventy plans offering this option. Most of them provide free or greatly reduced cost sharing, and many also reimburse most or even all of the Part B premium. These changes have greatly changed the calculus for the “to B or not to B” decision upon turning age 65, and now make Medicare Part B enrollment a far better buy than in years past.