Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Adding family member to health paln

Bookmark and Share

Q. I have been a federal employee for five years and have covered myself and my minor child under the BCBS basic family plan. My husband is disabled and receives Medicare for his primary and his employee plan for his secondary health insurance. His employer plan’s monthly premium has become expensive, and it would be more cost-effective if he were on my plan. Can I add him to my family plan during open enrollment?

A. Yes.

Tags: , , , ,

Adding wife to BCBS

Bookmark and Share

Q: I have been on the phone on several occasions talking to BCBS customer service people and all seem to be at a loss and I never get the same answer to what I believe should be a simple question. I am a federal employee currently covered by BCBS under the standard program self only. My wife arrived in country this past March and now that open season is here I want to add her to my policy. I know I have to upgrade to the family plan; I am all for that. Please tell me what I must do to make this happen. Please do not refer me to customer service as they have no idea how to get this accomplished. Trust me on this. I am sure that my recent marriage is not the first one to happen with BCBS so why can I not be given simple instructions on how to get this completed. My wife needs to see a doctor; I do not need this aggravation any longer. I would think this would be a simple thing to accomplish but for me it has been like a quest for the Holy Grail.

A: The health benefits open season began on Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 13. You should have already received notice of that and information about your current enrollment and options. Whether you have or haven’t, your personnel office or joint servicing center can help you change your coverage from self only to self and family. That change would be effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Tags: , ,

Medicare-related health plan options

Bookmark and Share

Q: The 2011 open-enrollment season will to intoduce a voluntary sub-option for annuitants who receive Medicare Part B. Can you give me an update on this Office of Personnel Management proposal? Will all the participatng plans offer this, especially Blue Cross/Blue Shield?

A: On April 7, OPM issued its annual call letter to plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. In the letter, it encouraged them to propose “pilot programs wherein participating carriers offer a sub-option for Medicare-eligible annuitants as an alternate choice within their existing option(s). The sub-option may include premium pass-through accounts to be used solely for plans paying some or all of Medicare Part B premiums. The uniform contribution amount should provide an adequate incentive for eligible members to participate, but need not represent the full amount of Medicare Part B premiums. Individual Medicare premium amounts may vary based on consumer choice, penalties for failure to enroll in Medicare at the first opportunity, or increased premiums based on means testing.”

Responses to the call letter aren’t due until May 31. Whether any plans will elect to propose pilot programs is unknown at this time; if they do, it remains to be seen whether any of them would meet OPM’s criteria.

Tags: , , , , ,