Your Gold-Plated Health Plan

Thursday - 10/29/2009, 4:00am EDT

Congress is considering imposing a special new tax on on high-priced health plans. The theory, apparently, is that the proposed new 40 percent surcharge would force many people to switch to lower cost (in terms of premiums and benefits) insurance. And to discourage people from "over-using" their health insurance.

The timing is interesting because of well-founded concerns about a flu pandemic and the shortage of vaccines in many places. One wonders if members of Congress and their families somehow managed to get their shots ahead of the rest of us?

Critics of top-of-the-line coverage call them Cadillac or gold-plated plans. The FEHBP has several high premium, expanded benefits plans that would fit in that category. And be subject to the premium tax. But many people in those plans say they are there for a reason: Their special health needs.

Example:

  • "Did anyone stop to think that the people with the so called Cadillac Insurance Plans have them not because they want to have them but because they need to have them? I buy 'expensive' insurance (Blue Cross - Standard) because some members of my family have medical conditions which necessitate the higher level plan. I don't necessarily want to be in that plan but other factors have conspired to make that the best value for us. Now Congress wants to tax me because I am trying to do the right thing by taking care of my family? As always, keep up the good work." Andrew, Manassas Park, Va.

  • "This is another example of the hypocrisy of our ruling class elite. A so-called gold-plated health plan is not like an expensive Rolex watch that you wear to show you have 'made it'. You buy the higher premium health plan because you need it, or may need all of its benefits."

    The people who want to tax some of us to 'equalize' health care are the same politicians who refuse to fund charter schools because they are a 'threat' to public schools but who send their own children to private grade school and private high school whose tuition rates rival those of Harvard or Yale." Bradley B.

FERS Sick Leave

The Defense Authorization Act signed into law yesterday permits workers under the FERS retirement plan to credit unused sick leave toward retirement service time. But there is a 4-year phase in period. Workers who retire through December 31, 2013 will get half credit for their leave. Those retiring in 2014 and thereafter will get full credit for unused sick leave. The change is not retroactive.

Yesterday's Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show zeroed in on the new perqs for feds and retirees contained in the Defense bill. Jessica Klement from the Federal Managers Association and Tammy Flanagan, National Institute of Transition Planning explained the changes in detail. If you missed it, or want to listen again, click here.

Shutdown Averted Again
Noted from the Newsdesk

For Federal Agencies that don't have approved spending, help is on the way. House and Senate negotiators Tuesday agreed on a $32.2 billion fiscal 2010 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill that includes a continuing resolution to fund programs for agencies whose spending bills have not been approved. It will fund those agencies through Dec. 18 and include additional funding for Environmental Protection, Native American Programs, The Forest Service and National Parks. More of the day's news in the Thursday Morning Federal Newscast .

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

LiveScience reports the record for giant pumpkins was broken this month by a gourd that weighed more than the average cow.

Getting into the spirit (sorry), Stan the Man asks "If you take the circumference of a Jack O'Lantern and divide by its diameter, do you get pumpkin Pi?"

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com