In 2016 there was more than the usual amount of activity regarding federal insurance benefits and less than usual regarding retirement, but in 2017 that situation could be reversed. On insurance, there was a substantial premium increase for all but a few percent of enrollees in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program following the issuance of a renewed seven-year contract with the provider, and an opportunity for those enrollees to change or drop coverage in response. After that sequence, premiums are likely to remain stable for a while, possibly until the end of the contract. Also this year there was a rare open season in the FEGLI insurance program that likely won’t be repeated anytime soon; the prior one was in 2004. The health insurance and vision-dental insurance programs meanwhile received relatively little attention, as did retirement benefits after a House proposal to increase employee contributions died through inaction in the Senate. However, in 2017, given the new political lineup, efforts are expected to revive that proposal, as well as other ideas that have been raised in the past, including eliminating the FERS “special retirement supplement,” and ending the defined-benefit portion of retirement benefits for employees newly hired after some future date. Also possible is another push to change the government’s share of FEHB premiums from a percentage basis to a dollar-amount “voucher” basis.
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