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OPM answers Affordable Care Act questions

The Office of Personnel Management is conducting an education effort to equip human resources officers to answer employee questions concerning the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The Office of Personnel Management is conducting an education effort to equip human resources officers to answer employee questions concerning the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Elaine Kaplan, OPM acting director, announced the effort in an Aug. 27 memo.

While the ACA has sparked some level of anxiety generally among insured Americans, the ground rules for FEHB coverage remain largely unaffected for eligible federal employees, retirees and dependents. The main effects of the law on the FEHB are provisions that allowed OPM to expand FEHB eligibility and offer additional consumer protections.

Among those, OPM extended family member coverage beginning in 2011 to offer coverage under a parent’s FEHB plan to adult children up to age 26, just as non-FEHB plans were required to do. The same year, FEHB plans were required to begin to fully cover, with no enrollee co-pay, preventive health services such as childhood immunizations, cancer screenings and tobacco cessation services. Under the act, OPM also required all FEHB plans to eliminate annual and lifetime limits on essential health benefits beginning with the 2013 contract year, OPM noted. 

While ACA-mandated health insurance marketplaces, which will give individuals and small employers a central place to obtain coverage, will launch soon across the country, they will have no effect on FEHB enrollees, OPM noted.

The OPM document that answers common questions concerning the ACA is at: www.chcoc.gov/files/the-affordable-care-act-and-the-federal-employees-health-benefit-program-questions-answers.pdf.

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