Federal Benefits Open Season is here! Each year, we encourage all eligible employees and retirees to review their health, dental, vision, and dependent care needs and to make changes to or enroll in one of the available benefit programs. Open Season is the time to make choices you generally cannot make at any other time of the year.
Remember, all health, dental, or vision plans are not alike. Open Season is about exercising your ability to choose the benefits that best meet you and your family’s needs. You have between now and December 12 to make your benefit decisions. 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 this country. For 2017, there will be 245 health plans available, with 15 of them available nationwide. And remember, all FEHB Plans now offer the opportunity to enroll in a Self Plus One enrollment type. This option allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member who you designate, such as a spouse or child. If you did not take advantage of Self Plus One last year, you can do so for 2017. 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 2017, FEDVIP offers 10 dental plans, six of which are nationwide plans. There are also four vision plans, all available nationwide. Coverage under a FEDVIP dental or vision plan is a great way to fill in the gaps of any health plan coverage you now have or to help pay for services that are not covered or available under your FEHB health plan. Some highlights: FEDVIP offers adult orthodontia. In-network Class A dental services, such as oral exams, prophylaxis and topical application of fluoride, are free. And, you can enroll in a self-only vision plan for less than $3 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)
While retirees are not eligible to enroll, most employees are eligible. You should check with your agency’s human resources office to verify your eligibility. For those who are eligible, FSAFEDS offers three 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” provision under which 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 2016 funds, you must re-enroll for 2017.
To learn more about FSAs, how much you can contribute, how much you can save, and changes for the 2017 benefit period, head over to our Federal Benefits Open Season webpage.
Don’t forget, you have until December 12 to review your needs and those of your family and to make the choices that are right for you.
Federal benefits open season is here. Each year we encourage all employees and retirees to review their benefits and make sure that they have plans that work best for them and their families. From today through December 14, employees and retirees can review and update their health, dental, and vision choices. Eligible employees who are not currently enrolled can also select plans for the first time. Retirees not currently enrolled in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) can also select dental and vision plans for the first time during open season.
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) covers over 8.2 million employees, retirees, and their families all across this country. For 2016, there will be 252 health plan choices available, with 11 of them available nationwide.
Beginning in 2016, all carriers will offer three enrollment types: Self Only, Self Plus One, and Self and Family. This year is your first opportunity to enroll in Self Plus One, which allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member, such as a spouse or child.
As always, we encourage you to look at all available health, dental, and vision plans and decide which ones best meet the needs of you and your family, as everyone’s needs are different. If you decide that your current coverage still works for you, you don’t have to do anything. Your benefits will remain in place for next year.
If you are eligible to sign up for the FEHB Program, you can also participate in FSAFEDS, the health and dependent care flexible spending account program. These accounts allow employees to set aside pre-tax money to pay for eligible health and dependent care expenses, such as co-pays, prescription costs and childcare.
Two changes were made to Health Care FSAs last year. Employees can enroll with just $100 contribution. Also, participants can re-enroll and carry over up to $500 of unused 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.
If you want to participate in FSAFEDS, be sure to sign-up by December 14. When it comes to FSAFEDS, everyone must re-enroll on an annual basis.
Don’t forget, employees and retirees have until December 14 to make their choices. For more information about the Federal benefits open season and to find the right option for you, visit opm.gov/openseason.
John O’Brien is the Director of Healthcare and Insurance for OPM.
As millions of Americans are benefiting from quality, affordable health care because of the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, I want to let you know that OPM’s Multi-State Plan program is making a difference in the lives of nearly 300,000 people who have chosen this option in the health law’s Marketplace.
Representatives of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association told lawmakers at a recent congressional hearing that 283,783 consumers signed up for an MSP option during the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period.
I am so proud of this accomplishment, especially since this was our first year running this program compared to the more than 50 years that OPM has administered the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. In this first year of the MSP program, consumers in 30 states and the District of Columbia had a MSP option as part of their health coverage choices.
It’s exciting to see that OPM is making an impact on the Health Insurance Marketplace. OPM staff is working to ensure that MSP options offer comprehensive benefits with strong consumer protections. With the MSP program in place, uninsured Americans now have even more choices for affordable coverage that works for them.
In this first year, we contracted with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, a long-time FEHB partner to provide MSP options. But I am looking forward to welcoming additional MSP issuers in the future so we can add even more competition to the Marketplace.
So if you have friends or family members who have lost their health insurance because of a major life event, please refer them to the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish version of the site. And it won’t be long before the next open enrollment for the Marketplace begins on November 15, 2014.
And make sure to put in a plug for OPM’s MSP program!
We learned today that more than 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance so far in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
This important milestone means that more than 6 million Americans can count on affordable, quality health care. It means they don’t have to worry about insurance companies refusing to cover them because they are sick or have a preexisting condition. It means 6 million Americans don’t have to worry about how they will pay a hospital bill if they or someone in their family gets sick.
In the past month I have been to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Miami, Houston and Phoenix to spread the word about the need for all uninsured Americans to sign up for health insurance, particularly Latinos, who have a higher uninsured rate than most Americans and more health risk factors.
At one enrollment site in Phoenix, 300 people had waited on line just on Wednesday to get signed up. And nationwide on Wednesday there were 1.5 million visits to healthcare.gov and the call center received more than 430,000 calls.
6 million is great. But our work is not yet done. We have four days left. We all need to spread the word to our friends, our families, our colleagues, our neighbors. Enroll in the Marketplace.
Tell them to go to healthcare.gov. Tell them to go to cuidadodesalud.gov. Tell them to call the 1-800-318-2596 call center 24 hours a day.
Let’s get everyone covered now!
There are only 33 days left for Americans to sign up for a health plan in the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces.
We held an exciting event here at OPM this week designed to help parents of young adults about to turn 26 or who are already older than that.
Why that age group? Because people reaching that age have some decisions to make. Under the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they turn 26.
But after that, if these young folks are not insured through their jobs, they need to make sure they sign up for a health plan through the ACA Marketplaces.
We parents know it is not always easy to convince our children to do anything. So the OPM health care team organized this event to give parents some tips on how to counsel their children on the importance of having health insurance. They gave OPM employees some pointers on how their children can go to Healthcare.gov and find all the information they need about health plans, their costs and how to enroll.
Young people often believe they are invincible and don’t have to worry about being insured Take it from me, the mother of a young woman, Graciela, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 19. Graciela is well now but she will need health care for the rest of her life. And the Affordable Care Act ensures that no insurance company can refuse to cover her because she has a pre-existing condition.
So tell your children my daughter’s story, a story that is repeated in families across this country. Convince them to sign up. And then share your experience on my Facebook page and on Twitter. How you convinced your young person to enroll in a health plan may help another parent who is still trying to make the case to their child.
And remember, the deadline to sign up for this year is March 31. Don’t let it slip by!
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