GS benefits overseas

24 posts in this topic

Posted

Morning all,

I have been looking over some GS jobs in the Ramstein area and invited to an interview. Are there any GS people on here that can tell me the basics of what benefits GS employees receive? (this will be just a GS employee, no military partner) Ive been looking online but it dont give a clear answer to what you receive overseas.

 

Do you get the following?

Access to the PX/Commissary.

Gas station.

DODs schools.

COLA

BAH/BAS or LQA.

Healthcare on base.

 

Do your family members also receive these?

 

Thank you for your help

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Posted

 

Morning all,I have been looking over some GS jobs in the Ramstein area and invited to an interview. Are there any GS people on here that can tell me the basics of what benefits GS employees receive? (this will be just a GS employee, no military partner) Ive been looking online but it dont give a clear answer to what you receive overseas.Do you get the following?Access to the PX/Commissary.Gas station.DODs schools.COLABAH/BAS or LQA.Healthcare on base.Do your family members also receive these?Thank you for your help

 

PX/Commissary - Yes, for you and dependents.

Gas Station - Yes, 2 vehicles per sponsor but usually not a problem to get a third one authorized i.e. a motorcycle. 400 liters a month for cars, 600 for vans/trucks. Gas is around $4.20 a gallon these days and a debit card-like system is used. You can purchase on base or at any off base Esso.

DoDDS - Yes

COLA (Post Allowance, actually) - Yes

LQA - Depends. If you're considered a "local hire" then usually not. Maybe someone else can provide some more insight on the LQA issue

Healthcare on base - Not on Ramstein itself (small clinic) but you may be able to get in space-available at Landstuhl as a pay patient on whatever health plan you purchase. There are tons of English-speaking providers here for just about any specialty you can name. Dental will be off base.

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Posted

thank you for the info. its a great help.

 

the main thing Im worried about is the LQA, if im paid in $ but have to pay for rent in Euro its gonna kill my paycheck.

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Posted

I know of some folks here who were hired locally but had relocation agreements back to the US from their former employer - in most cases, LQA was granted. There are other factors that can come into play such as "hard to fill" positions that may get LQA regardless. Again, maybe someone else can chime in on the LQA equation.

Rentals in the immediate area around the base are inflated because of OHA/LQA recipients but cheaper housing can be had if you're willing to drive 20-30 minutes out.

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Posted

How are you coming in to this job? Are you a civilian who lives in Frankfurt working on the German economy? If so you probably won't get LQA since you will be a local hire. If it is a hard to fill position (typically only Medical positions) then you can negotiate and get LQA. If you are a military contractor with a transportation agreement then you can usually fight to get LQA. Since this is an interview be sure to ask this question up front and make sure they will go to bat for you if you don't qualify but need LQA.

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Posted

If you do qualify for LQA, it will be paid in US dollars based on the rental or purchase agreement in Euros using the current exchange rate. BetzeAmi and smokeyalien bring up a valid point concerning the LQA for people already in Germany. Unless you can demonstrate you have a transportation agreement that has been continuous since your first day in Germany, it is unlikely you will qualify for LQA.

 

The transportation agreement, which is usually part of the offer letter, must specifically state you will be returned to the US upon successful completion of your tour of duty. If the offer letter states the employer will repatriate the employee or provide a specific amount of money for relocation, or any other general statement, it will not satisfy the requirements for granting LQA.

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Posted

LQA should be stated right in the job announcement, if you don't see it then it's not provided. But youi still ndd to ask in your interview.

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Posted

Even if LQA is offered in the announcement doesn't mean that you will get it if you are considered a local hire which they can consider the OP since he is in Frankfurt.

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Posted

Sorry to reserect an old thread, but I am a GS12 who's been offered a GS13 position in Stuttgart.

 

After working thru the base pay issue (going from locality pay to no locality pay), think I've figured out how to calculated Post Allowance (COLA) - but I'm not 100% sure. So I'll submit my figures for your review and commentary:

 

LQA - $47,900/yr based on a GS13 with family

COLA - $8700/yr ($315/pay period)

 

Does this sound right?

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Posted

My husband is a GS13, and we just returned from Germany this past summer. Your figures sound reasonable. Congrats to you! Stuttgart is a fabulous city. I'd go back and live there in heartbeat!

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Posted

I appreciate all the info I've been getting so far, thank you.

 

I do have a question about access to medical care for routine appointments & emergencies - I have Blue Cross Federal. How does the process work?

 

Thx in advance.

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Posted

As a DOD Civilian you can be seen at the military clinic on a space-available basis only. You cannot 'sign up' at the military clinic as its primary purpose is to serve the military, their dependents, retirees and their dependents (pretty much in that order). Being seen on the local economy (German Dr.) is the norm for everyone else. Many, many people have a German doctor (we have a lot of DOD civilians and contractors). Also, many military/retirees are seen by German Doctors as the clinic is just that -a clinic. Stuttgart has many hospitals (over 20) and excellent health care. Many DOD civilians have FEHB and it operates just fine overseas. Lots have BCBS (I know a guy who's been here over 20-yrs and has BCBS. Generally you pay the German provider up front and then claim with FEHB. Its been said that the FSBP works with many hospital directly thus avoid that upfront payment.

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Posted

Based on personal experience, what are the best options with respect to healthcare coverage?

 

My wife has a requirement to see specialist dr's every couple months, so paying up front isn't desirable for us.

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Posted

two hour road trip to Landstuhl perhaps? even as a contractor I've been able to get appointments for specialized care there and they billed my insurance company directly.

 

Also, local medical care is quite a bit less expensive than the American system - my $300 prescription is 22 euro; a recent emergency room visit resulting in sutures cost me 60 euro, as examples.

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Posted

Appreciate the info on the ER costs. I am an avid mountain biker I may need their services from time to time.

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Posted

Be aware that local hospitals in the Stuttgart area have put a new policy in place for non-Active duty patients and their family members. In order to be seen for an outpatient appointment, they will require 250 Euro deposit before you are seen. For in-patient treatment/service, tehy will require 1000 Euro deposit before you are admitted.

 

According to the local patient liaison persons, this is because so many non-Active duty members and dependents departed without paying their medical bills that the local clinics and hospitals were left holding over 1 Million Euro of bad debt.

 

There might be a few exceptions based on specific insurance coverages, but according to the hospital tour and classes just this week, this is still the policy in force. Of course, if the treatment or office visit is only 30-40 Euro, the remainder will be returned to you. This can be done on your credit card, as well, so you don't have to front the cash if you have valid credit.

 

Just don't want you to be surprised.

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Posted

Good info and much appreciated.

 

Any word on the best insurance coverage* (or strategies) to avoid these substantial deposits, if any?

 

*It's Open Season afterall and I would like to switch to a Germany friendly policy if I need to.

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Posted

mtn biker? learn to recognize the first symptoms of lyme disease and consider getting vaccinated against encephalitis

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Posted

None of the Government offered health Insurances are 'German friendly' and Private German health Insurance is very expensive and you wouldn't qualify for Public Insurance at all.

 

As soon as they ascertain you are American you will be required to pay up front for your treatment at the hospital, unless you are bought in by ambulance as an Emergency patient. Be advised to keep ALL receipts in a safe place as some of the hospitals are better than others at taking off the final bill, the deposit you have already paid. Sindelfingen hospital (closest to the base) has been having some problems doing this and we've had to go up there twice to fix it. Visits to a german doctor are different, in that case, you tell them you are Privately Insured, they treat you and send you a final bill which you then send into your Insurance. Most give you 4 weeks or so to pay before they start chasing you up, the American friendly doctors know how long it takes for claims to go through and are pretty lenient. Medications that are not available at the base pharmacy (and a lot aren't because the budget doesn't allow for the newest medications to be on the list) must be paid for up front by patients and reimbursed through insurance. I think the price of meds here is crazy, after a knee op, my husband had 700 Euros of medications and injections on prescription that we had to pay for up front and weren't available through the base!! so bear that in mind too.

 

I know a couple of doctors who work in the German hospital and they've told me the problems the hospitals were having was more to do with the deductibles not being paid, the Insurance would pay the 80-90% of the bill directly to the hospital as instructed by the patient, and the civilians/contractors were assuming it was all taken care of and not realising they were still liable to pay the remaining deductible directly to the hospital. In the end it got ridiculous and now all the big hospitals that take referrals from the base insist on a deposit.

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Posted

It's been said to me (I do not have FEHB any more) that the FSBP works more with hospitals than other plans (I do not have any personal experience with it though). That said, many people other FEHB plans (BSBC or MHBP) -they all seem to work fairly well.

 

As Nicole said, you cannot avoid the cost, they will require payment upfront, in Euros, when you walk in the door. They (USAREUR) seem to be trying to resolve the problem of the upfront payment requirement, but bottom line, if Americans in Germany had paid their bills this would not be an issue (really erks me because they've left us holding the bag). The amount not paid ran into the millions of Euros (really, it's in the millions). So this problem of the upfront payment is not going to go away.

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