As the government shutdown continues, the employees affected are becoming increasingly concerned over the financial challenges they are facing. Now, reports are noting that some groups, such as FBI agents and associated personnel, will start running into some insurance-related issues if the shutdown doesn’t end very quickly.
WUSA9 details that more than 13,000 active-duty agents plus FBI support staff are facing the loss of their supplemental health insurance if they hit a second pay period without the shutdown ending. Luckily, this issue does not impact the main insurance coverage policies for these employees. However, these thousands of government employees could face difficult decisions regarding coverage like their vision and dental insurance if the shutdown continues a few more days.
If the shutdown continues until January 25, affected employees will lose that supplemental insurance unless they choose to pay for it on their own for the rest of the year. The timing of the shutdown, coming just before Christmas and carrying over into the New Year, has presented numerous problems for affected employees.
As PBS notes, the government shutdown started just before everybody’s health insurance reset for the New Year. That means a reset of the yearly out-of-pocket deductible at a time that employees are not receiving any pay at all. That is likely to cause challenges for many families facing medical issues who are now struggling to pay deductibles for care and prescriptions, and now they face the potential loss of a portion of their coverage as well.
— Bruce Leshan (@BruceLeshan) January 22, 2019
Federal employees worried about their supplemental health coverage do have options, but they may not feel like attractive options. If the shutdown continues through the second pay period, impacted employees will need to either go without that additional coverage for the rest of the year or start paying for that coverage themselves until they can re-enroll at the end of the year.
FBI Agents Association President Tom O’Connor said in a recent interview that many of these impacted employees, a high percentage of whom are still expected to work, simply don’t have the money to cover this shutdown and the associated issues it brings. O’Connor said that the shutdown is shameful and disgusting, and he thinks it needs to end.
“We’re in danger of losing people, a direct national security threat, families could lose their benefits, and it’s past time to end the foolish shutdown.”
FBI agents, along with government employees in other capacities, are trying to wade through more than just a lack of paychecks. In addition to trying to find a way to pay their bills, they have also been facing quite a bit of uncertainty over issues like back-pay, taxes, and vacation pay.
The loss of supplemental health insurance is just one of many concerns facing these workers if the government shutdown continues, and at this point, it’s not clear what it’s going to take to put an end to it.