Pets-Over-Partners Policy Muzzled

How come government workers can get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for dogs, cats, parrots and their pet hamsters but cannot provide coverage under their FEHBP plan for their same sex partner?

The short answer is they can’t!

Even though they got some pretty good unions, federal and postal workers cannot put their pets under their federal health plan. Nor can they provide coverage under the FEHBP for same-sex domestic partners. Period. End of story…

And yet, another Urban Legend has probably just been born.


Given all that’s going on in the world, the U.S. government on Monday felt compelled to issue a statement clarifying that it does not provide pet insurance for federal workers, nor does the federal health program permit coverage of same-sex partners even though the administration favors the latter.

So who let the dogs out?

Why was the statement necessary?

The clarification was necessary because there had been a batch of look-how-dumb-the-government-is stories which said Uncle Sam prefers pets to people!

Last week a popular blog carried a piece with the eye-catching headline: “Fed employees can buy health insurance for their pets, but not their same-sex partners”.

The story (which is wrong) was based on a communication the Aetna insurance company sent out telling current policy-holders that they could get discount pet insurance. They can. But not through the federal health program.

Apparently an angry fed who saw Aetna’s pet insurance offer put 2 and 2 together and got 14. As in the wrong answer.

The popular blog said that feds got an e-mail from the insurance company offering pet insurance. The blog said pet insurance “…is a handsome perk for those who can afford it” then noted that “…LGBT workers are still prohibited from purchasing policies for their partners or spouses by the Defense of Marriage Act — a federal law which denies federal benefits to legally married same sex couples. President Obama supports repealing DOMA (although the administration is currently defending the policy in court) but hasn’t pressured Congress to repeal the act.”

After many news stories and complaints, the Office of Personnel Management felt compelled to issue a clarification to a situation it didn’t create.

It said “stories claiming that the federal government offers pet insurance to federal employees, and juxtaposing that benefit with the fact that the federal government cannot under current law provide health insurance benefits to federal employees’ domestic partners are grossly inaccurate…”

For the record, the President is on record as supporting FEHBP benefits to the domestic partners of federal and postal workers and retirees. And his federal family health insurance plan does not cover Bo Obama, the first family’s Portuguese Water Dog.

Roth IRAs/Discount Life Insurance

Are you considering a Roth IRA or option? What are the pros and cons of the after-tax Roth vs. the pre-tax Thrift Savings Plan? And where does a Roth fit in with the Voluntary Contributions Program? Tax expert Bob Leins is our first guest today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show. Listen, learn and call in if you like, or e-mail your questions to me. Then at 10:30 a.m., John Montague of WAEPA explains why that special life insurance plan may be better than FEGLI for some federal workers. You can listen by clicking on listen live on or in the DC area at 1500 AM.

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

With cold and flu season upon us, the Reader’s Digest passes along this NUF: “The evidence for hands as a major route for transmitting infection is so strong that scientists at the London School of Hygiene recommend greeting friends the French way, with a peck on the cheek rather than a handshake.”

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Analysis: What does public anger toward feds mean for you and your job?
With much of public opinion against feds, your pay, benefits and hiring have become both a rallying point for Republican midterm candidates and a target of potential government cost-cutting in the current Democratic administration. Mike Causey, Federally Employed Women’s Janet Kopenhaver and Government Executive’s Tom Shoop offer their analysis of how the negativity might affect feds now and post-midterm elections.