It’s open enrollment season and time to shop “the widest selection of health plans in the country,” where pre-existing conditions are not an issue and the government pays a portion of your premiums.
There is even a convenient website devoted to making the shopping experience easy and understandable. You can download charts that compare the various health plans available, complete with premium rates broken down into how much you will be expected to pay and how much the government — that’s you and me — will pay.
Here’s the catch — in order to take advantage of this opportunity, you must be a federal employee. Federal employees, during this open enrollment period (November 9 – December 14), are free to shop the marketplace for better plans and better rates for themselves and their families.
I have nothing against federal employees and do not begrudge them their benefits. (My feelings about our esteemed representatives and senators, however, are an entirely different matter.) It is obvious from the wording of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Website that the federal government believes providing federal employees, retirees, and their survivors with “the widest selection of health plans in the country” is a top priority.
Federal regulations require this annual open season. Employees needn’t worry about the status of their health or about any medical condition that may have existed prior to enrollment because “The FEHB Program and FEDVIP may not deny your enrollment based on you or your family member having a pre-existing condition. FLTCIP may not deny approval of benefits for someone already enrolled based on a pre-existing condition.”
This is done with the intention of “ensuring the federal government has an effective civil work force.” Makes perfect sense. People who have access to the care they need stay healthier longer and experience less stress due to concerns about health care coverage, making them more productive employees.
Freedom of choice… an open marketplace… no penalty for having a pre-existing condition… an opportunity to choose again every year if not satisfied… this is the health care our federal government provides for its own workforce, partially at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.
Why, then, is the same type of accessible and affordable health care for the rest of us such a hard-to-fathom concept? Is the federal employee health care program socialist… un-American… not worth the cost to taxpayers? If so, we need to do away with it, along with Medicaid and Medicare, for the sake of consistency. If not, it’s a great working model.
My own health policy premium is higher than the “employee pays” figure for every single plan listed. In fact, mine is higher than the premium for every family plan listed for federal employees. Even the total premium — including the employee-paid portion and the government-paid portion combined — for almost every policy, was still a far better bargain than my own coverage.
Because of my pre-existing condition, the laws in my state effectively lock me out of the opportunity to comparison shop. My deductible is already at its maximum — my insurer will not allow me to raise it any further. Choice is something I’ve come to envy.
Members of Congress have even more health care perks than other federal employees. This is the governing body responsible for the laws that deny me choice, the laws that allow hard-working citizens to be winnowed out of the health care system entirely. Like an exclusive social club, Congress has a strict “keep out” policy.
The real problem with trying to pass reform? Alternate realities.