Health Insurance: A Must Read
Judy Beard, Director
(This article appears in the November-December 2013 edition of The American Postal Worker.)
The U.S. Postal Service is plotting to take away our health insurance and replace it with a USPS-sponsored healthcare plan that is outside of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
In July, in response to requests from members of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on the proposal entitled, “U.S. Postal Service-Proposed Health Plan Could Improve Financial Condition, But Impact on Medicare and Other Issues Should Be Weighed before Approval.” If you haven’t read this enlightening study, it’s not too late; you can find it at www.gao.gov/assets/660/656011.pdf.
Many retired APWU members have called the Retirees Department recently asking about our views on the USPS proposal.
The answer is straightforward: We oppose any plan to take postal employees — active or retired — out of the federal program. I’ve told many retirees that the USPS proposal is just another underhanded assault on employees’ and retirees’ benefits — masked behind claims that it will improve postal finances and save workers money. However, there is no factual basis to these claims.
The USPS is asking Congress to give management the right to lump all of us in the same health insurance plan — a plan that has not yet been developed. This clearly is not the best solution to the financial problems facing the Postal Service.
As the GAO study concluded, the plan “has not been well thought out.” The report points out several red flags. For example, postal retirees may no longer count on the Postal Service’s contributions to the cost of retirees’ healthcare, as they would no longer be fixed by law as they are in FEHBP. Some retirees could face higher total costs, including to out-of-pocket costs, due to differences in deductibles, maximum spending limits, or needing to change providers.
The Postal Service cannot implement the proposal without changes in current law. I urge you contact your congressional representative and senators and let them know that the best way to resolve the problems in the Postal Service would be to repeal the provision of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare for future retirees. If this law is repealed, the Postal Service would revert to a pay-as-you-go basis, like other government agencies.
I also urge you to contact President Obama to tell him to keep his promise that, under Obamacare, “if you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan.”
I encourage you to review your federal health plan during Open Season, which runs from Nov. 11 through Dec. 9 this year.
It’s important to know the changes to your benefits and rates, and to find out if your FEHB plan is terminating coverage in your service area or is leaving the FEHB program. I also urge you to look at the new benefits the APWU Health Plan is offering. Check it out at www.apwuhp.com. Our plan receives great reviews from many of our members and federal workers and retirees who are enrolled.
The Affordable Care Act
Open Season for the Affordable Care Act, better known as “ObamaCare,” began Oct. 1, 2013, and continues through March 14, 2014.
If you have relatives, friends, or neighbors who don’t have health insurance, please advise them to contact the Government Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov or call them at 1-800-318-2596 if they have questions about signing up.
Let them know that nobody from the federal government will call them concerning enrollment or to verify information. If someone does call, advise them to hang up because any such call is a scam. You can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint Department at 877-382-4357 or online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.