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    Our Director Director's Blog

    Federal Benefits Open Season is here! Each year, we encourage all eligible employees and retirees to review their health, dental, vision, and tax-saving needs and to make changes to, or enroll in, the right benefit programs for you and your family. Open Season is the time to make elections you generally can’t make during other times of the year. Remember that all health, dental, or vision plans have some differences, and between now and December 11 you can make choices in our quality benefit programs. Here is a link to learn more about the Federal Benefits Open Season.

    The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program

    The FEHB Program covers over 8.2 million employees, retirees, and their families all across the country. For 2018, there will be 262 health plan choices available, with 15 of them available nationwide. To help you find the right plan for you and your family, OPM’s website provides plan details, including costs, provider directory, services, and benefits. Be sure to use our improved Plan Comparison Tool to assist with your decision.

    If you are enrolled in “Self and Family”, but have only one eligible family member, consider changing to Self Plus One. The change could save you money.

    On OPM’s Quality page, you can also check out plans in your ZIP code to see how they compare to your current plan on the quality and customer satisfaction topics that matter the most to you. OPM selects the most relevant measures available, including prenatal care, blood pressure control, timeliness of processing claims, and overall plan satisfaction. You can learn more about the FEHB Program on our dedicated Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.

    Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

    For 2018, FEDVIP offers 10 dental plans, of which 6 are nationwide plans. And, there are 4 vision plans offered, all available nationwide. Coverage under a FEDVIP dental or vision plan is a great way to fill in the gaps of any coverage you now have or to help pay for services that are not covered or available under your current health plan. Some highlights: FEDVIP offers adult orthodontia and in-network Class A dental services (e.g., oral exams, prophylaxis, topical application of fluoride) are free. And, you can enroll in a self only vision plan for under $4 per pay period. As always, check plan brochures for specific coverage and compare plans. You can learn more about FEDVIP on the Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.

    Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS)

    Most employees are eligible to enroll in FSAFEDS, but retirees are not eligible for this particular program. You should check with your agency’s human resources office to verify your eligibility. For those that are eligible, FSAFEDS offers 3 accounts to choose from - a health care account, a limited expense health care account, and a dependent care account. Participation in these accounts allows you to lower your taxable income by setting aside pre-tax money to pay for eligible health, dental, vision, and dependent care expenses, such as co-pays, prescription drug costs, orthodontics, eyeglasses, and child/elder care. As a reminder, there is now a “carry over” where enrollees can carry over up to $500 of unused Health Care FSA money into the following year. This means that you won’t have to forfeit money you don’t use by the end of the calendar year. To take advantage of the carry-over of 2017 funds, you must re-enroll for 2018.

    FSAFEDS offers paperless reimbursement for your Health Care FSA through a number of FEHB and FEDVIP plans. This means that when you or your provider file claims with your FEHB or FEDVIP plan, FSAFEDS will automatically reimburse your eligible out-of-pocket expenses (co-pay, prescriptions cost, etc..) based on the claim information it receives from your plan. There is little or no paperwork involved, and in many cases you will receive your reimbursement before your bill is due.

    To learn more about FSAs, how much you can contribute, how much you can save, and changes for the 2018 benefit period, head over to our Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.

    Don’t forget, you have until December 11 to review your and your family’s needs and to make the choices that are right for you.  

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