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.