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NARFE: Higher FEHB Premiums a Blow to Feds, Retirees
October 14, 2020

Alexandria, Va. – In response to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcing today that Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program premiums for America’s active and retired federal workers will increase by an average of 3.6 percent in 2021with the share paid by federal civil servants and retirees increasing by an average of 4.9 percentNARFE National President Ken Thomas issued the following statement:

 “OPM’s announcement of the 2021 FEHB premiums is a disappointment to America’s civil servants and retirees. With the backdrop of both a viral pandemic and bleak economic outlook, even the modest 4.9 percent average increase could become a source of financial stress for federal employees and the families they support.

“While this rate change is lower than last year’s, when enrollees’ premiums rose 5.6 percent on average, it remains hard to swallowparticularly with the specter of a paltry 1 percent federal pay increase looming for 2021. And unfortunately, 1 percent is currently the best-case scenario for Feds, who are facing the very real prospect of lower take-home pay next year with this health insurance increase.

“Likewise, federal retirees will bear the pain of higher premiums as their purchasing power continues to ebb from stagnant cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). For these retirees, the 1.3 percent COLA in 2021 falls far short of what’s needed to cover the increase in FEHB premiums and other health care expenses.

“One bright spot in today’s announcement was the increasing number of plans that offer enrollees partial Medicare Part B premium reimbursement, now up to 25. That’s good news for annuitants looking for coverage that meets their needs and fits their budgets. 

“While higher costs for coverage may be unavoidable, federal employees and retirees should be aware that they have many options to choose from during Open Season. With roughly 55 percent of enrollees facing an increase greater than 5 percent if they reenroll in their current plans, it’s especially important to reevaluate your options. NARFE encourages all participants to thoroughly review the plans to select the one that best fits their needs. NARFE members can look to the October issue of NARFE Magazine for tips on selecting health care coverage that meets their families’ requirements. All federal employees and annuitants are encouraged to join NARFE’s three upcoming Open Season webinars to help narrow their choices."


  • Open Season—the annual period during which eligible federal employees, retirees and survivors can make changes to their health benefits coverage for the following year—takes place from November 9 through December 14.
  • While the average increase is 3.6 percent, overall, the federal government’s contribution in 2021 will increase by an average of 3.0 percent and the enrollee share will increase an average of 4.9 percent.
  • Annual average premium increases for previous years were 4 percent in 2020, 1.3 percent in 2019, 4.0 percent in 2018, 4.4 percent in 2017 and 6.4 percent in 2016.
  • Overall, rates for Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program’s 12 plans did not increase, and most enrollees will see no change in premiums.

Jenn Rafael
NARFE Director of Communications and Marketing
(571) 483-1270

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association)
606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

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