Concerns about major coverage and payment changes that Blue Cross and Blue Shield is imposing on some 4 million federal workers has prompted a House hearing this week.
On Wednesday, the federal workforce subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will quiz officials from the insurance company and the Office of Personnel Management, as well as a doctor, about the upcoming changes. At issue: multiple changes listed in a 135-page explanation of coverage.
Critics claim that, without much notice to federal workers, changes are taking effect that will cut coverage while raising costs. "On January 1st, more than 4 million federal employees are going to get a nasty surprise Christmas gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield," said one critic who provided U.S. News with details.
Among the changes being planned: Premiums could rise 13 percent, and nonemergency services for out-of-network needs could see major fee jumps or no reimbursement at all.
However, the documents do note that workers have a choice of programs and that the changes coming to the new plan are not that radically different than what other insurance companies are imposing on private workplaces because of the slumping economy and continued surge in medical costs.
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Corrected 12/03/08: An earlier version incorrectly reported some details of the insurance changes.