Retirement & Financial Planning Report

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OPM has said it is working to improve features for federal employees and annuitants to compare FEHB plans, although it does not project having those improvements in place until late next year—potentially in time for that year’s open season for selecting coverage in 2024.

The FEHB offers a wider range of choice of plans than private sector companies typically do for their employees, with about a dozen plans open to all, other national plans open to certain categories, along with HMO plans (whose numbers vary by area, with more available in city areas). However, differences in coverage terms among the numerous plans—along with sub-options such as high-deductible plans—also has given the program a reputation for complexity, especially for persons with specialized health care needs.

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In a recent update of strategic projects underway, OPM said its current plan comparison tool was developed in 2002 and although it has been updated over time, “it is at the end of its lifecycle and unable to deliver a versatile or comprehensive interface.”

“In 2020, there were 2.4 million page views, 1.6 million user sessions, and 1.3 million unique views; however, it does not currently support the unique health benefit comparison needs of its users, including those in underserved communities,” it said.

OPM said it plans a “new, state-of-the-art FEHB decision support tool that will give eligible individuals the necessary information to compare plan benefits, provider networks, prescription costs, and other health information important to them and their families.”

The new tool will “support improvements in health outcomes government-wide by supporting health literacy and offering user-centric comparison of available health insurance benefits,” it said.

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