Among the further details on the 2021 FEHB program newly announced are expanded coordination between some carriers and Medicare and benefits related to covid-19.
The Medicare provisions act as an incentive for retirees with FEHB coverage to take Medicare Part B coverage (non-hospital services) as well, even though the two cover many of the same services and having Part B requires paying a monthly premium in addition to the FEHB premium (which does not decrease).
In addition to the nearly two dozen plan options already providing for an offset of some or all of the additional cost of Part B—either through direct reimbursement or waivers of copays, coinsurance or deductibles—seven more will do so in 2021: Aetna Advantage (Advantage); APWU Health Plan (High); Kaiser Permanente – Mid-Atlantic States (High); Kaiser Permanente – Southern California (Standard); Medical Mutual of Ohio Southwest (Standard); Medical Mutual of Ohio Northeast (Standard); and UnitedHealthcare Advantage Plan (High).
OPM said that full information will be available through the plan comparison tool on its site ahead of the open season, which will run November 9-December 14.
Regarding covid, OPM said that all FEHB carriers have waived cost-sharing and prior authorization requirements for covid-19 diagnostic and antibody testing in response to two pandemic relief laws enacted earlier this year, the “Families First” Act and the “CARES” Act.
“To facilitate and support the federal workforce’s ability to receive telehealth or other remote health care services associated with the treatment of covid-19, FEHB carriers were strongly encouraged to waive associated cost-sharing and prior authorization requirements. Once an FDA-approved vaccine becomes available for covid-19, all FEHB carriers must rapidly cover it without any cost-sharing in less than 15 business days.”