Fedweek

OPM is expected to soon issue its annual “call letter,” in which it outlines the coverage features it wants in the FEHB program the following year. The letter is the start of a months-long process of negotiations between OPM and carriers that results in the announcement each autumn of new premium rates and coverage terms for the succeeding calendar year. OPM for years has used the call letter to stress cost-reduction steps such as promoting wellness programs—especially those designed to control blood pressure and weight and stop tobacco use—and encouraging the use of generic over brand-name drugs and other controls over prescription medicine costs. The call letter also sometimes tells carriers to add coverage for certain treatments and procedures, often in response to changes in industry standards. Several broader changes in the program that the administration has called for, including coverage of domestic partners and addition of more plan designs, would require a change in law, but there has been no movement on those ideas since they were first raised several years ago.