Open Enrollment for the “widest selection of health plans in the country”

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. 

Why I take health care reform personally and you should too

Photo: Creative Commons - Flickr - 16 Miles of String


Sandy H.

Murray M: No, it does not allow benefits to illegals. In fact, it doesn't allow benefits to most Americans. Learn a little, don't just spout the same bullshit that comes from Glenn Beck's mouth.

Little Star
Little Star8 years ago

I think that people OVER 22, who have had parents work for the Govt all their lives, as I have...should be allowed to get this benefit also. They just take...but never return for service.

murray m.
Past Member 8 years ago

The vote is not valid. The term "everyone" is all inclusive, This is America, and not yet a one world economy under one government, nor has it legalized the entry on non-Americans-hence the term "illegal" aliens. The proposed health care plan explicitly allows benefits to illegals, without any requirement that they learn our language and pass citizenship requirements, and add productively to our society.

Sandy & Graham B.
Sandy Graham B8 years ago

The current process that the U S Government is going through to create a universal health plan is making this country the laughing stock of the western world!
Other countries have implemented health care systems with minimum fuss even within the last five or so years (Switzerland I believe?)!
And we all know our politicians would never surrender their current Government-provided health care for the one they are trying to force on their constituents!
Yes, self-centered hypocrisy is alive and well in Washington DC!

Pa H.
P H8 years ago

I have to agree with Paul, the way these current bills stand no action is better than action. Mandated insurance is a scam.

The insurance model has been a miserable failure in delivering health care and until we get a new model that seriously competes with the insurance industry we will have no real reform.

In regards to this article choice of plans while a good thing does not insure the quality of the plan. Most federal plans are HMOs only two plans allow you to go out of network for a doctor, many do not cover alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic.It was only recently that federal employees had access to dental and vision plans.

The real issue remains, the insurance model. It has serious flaws and is not the answer to health care reform

Paul Puckett
Paul Puckett8 years ago


The Tom Coburn Amendment requires all elected government officials including the President to be enrolled in the public option. The Democrats didn't call their bluff, it wasn't a bluff, they simply ignored it. His amendment actually passed in a bill that never made it to the floor a few months ago.

Neither party is worth anything, but no action is better than the proposed action and based on everything I read and hear, I hope the Republicans are ready for leadership. They will have it in less than a year unless the President and Congress wake up to reality.

Don't worry if you hate Republicans. They will find a way to mess this opportunity up probably by focusing on the Choice issue or some other nonsense.

Doyal D.
Doyal D8 years ago

Didn't a Republican Senator or so propose that Congress have to have the same "plan" as the general public and when the Democrats called their bluff the Republicans backe off? A pox on them. Where's the public option?

Eileen P.
Eileen P8 years ago

From the moment Congress passed that Kennedy bill that excluded them from the Health Bill I questioned the entire bill.

If it is not good enough for the representatives that we the people voted in and the representatives that work for us, not the Federal Government because our Government belongs to the people, I have doubted everything that has been told to us.....
Our president is a hypocrit....who says one thing (for example that he is an egalitarian but really his actions are elitest) and then does the exact opposite.

In his campaign he said he would not listen to Lobbyists and at that moment I also knew he was full of hot air. And sure enough Obama has made deals with the pharmaceuticals and AARP and has taken money away from seniors........and don't forget they are the ones who paid into the system........all their hard work just so the governement can misuse their money.

And how can any one representative read the 1990 page bill?These Congress people who are supposed to serve us are serving themselves. They have not read the bill and are only voting along party lines.
The corruption that is within our system is only being continued by Pres. Obama. And because this president is proclaiming the opposite it makes him more dangerous than even Bush.
Make a bill that includes everyone....and that all the people can read and understand....then we have true health care........

Rozlyn R.
Rozlyn R8 years ago

It works for the Federal employees, it works for Vets, it works for medicare. WHY can't the entire population have this??? There will always be some problems but every Vet I know is happy to have SOME kind of health care that they don't have to worry about. It used to be the primary reason why people worked for the post office. God help us. Oh wait...

Paul Puckett
Paul Puckett8 years ago

There is a similar thought in an editorial from the Boston Globe. I am against a Federal public option, this is a State public option that I might support. Curious what you think?