Retirement & Financial Planning Report

OPM plans to launch a Federal Annuitant Benefits Survey, focusing on retiree views of the FEHB program, splitting off into two what traditionally had been a combined assessment involving both active and retired employees.

It noted that the traditional Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys, which have been administered for OPM by a contractor, ask enrollees to report on and evaluate their experiences with their health care. However, that type of survey is designed for the actively employed population and will no longer be administered to retirees, OPM said in a recent Federal Register notice.

Still, “annuitant feedback about their health plan experience is an essential part of successful benefit administration” and the new survey will be “designed to assess annuitant satisfaction with their health plan’s benefits and services.”

That indicates that the focus will be on experiences with getting care, claims processing and the like, and that the survey will not delve into structural issues of longstanding concern to retirees. One of those–the lack, until the 2016 plan year, of a self plus one option–already has been addressed. A major remaining issue for retirees, apart from costs in general, is the requirement to continue paying full-freight FEHB premiums even after enrolling in Medicare, which then becomes the primary payer with the FEHB plan acting only as a supplement.

The personnel agency has not set a date for sending out the survey but has indicated that it prefers that it be administered online only. It also did not say how it would select who would be asked to participate.