Disaster Workers Get Health Benefits

November 14, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The federal government extended health care coverage to part-time disaster workers.

The Office of Personnel Management is issuing an interim final rule allowing “certain employees who work on intermittent schedules” to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The rule is effective November 9.  

This rule is intended to allow agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to apply to OPM for authorization to offer FEHBP coverage to intermittent employees engaged in emergency response functions.      

The agency was prompted to issue the rule by Hurricane Sandy, and said it determined the situation met the requirements that allowed OPM to issue the interim final rule without first issuing proposed rules.  

“[E]mergency response workers are voluntarily exposing themselves to hazardous working conditions every day.They have a need for health insurance coverage to obtain preventive care, to allow for early detection of potentially serious conditions and to address any health issues that may arise as a result of their service.The regulatory obstacle preventing such agencies as FEMA from submitting a request for FEHBP coverage of these men and women should thus be eliminated without delay,” the rule says.  

The interim final rule is here.