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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.
Today, I am excited to announce that the overall average premium increase for employee health benefits provided through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will be 3.2 percent for 2015.
The health insurance increase means employees with self-only coverage will pay an average $2.93 more in each bi-weekly pay period. Employees with family coverage can expect an average increase of $6.89 per pay period. The actual premium increases depend on which plans they choose.
These rate increases are proof that OPM continues to provide Federal employees, retirees and their families with the best possible coverage options. The FEHB Program delivers competitive rates and high quality benefits through an efficiently run system. These benefits also help us to attract and retain top talent in the Federal service. In 2015, there will be 257 health plans, with 11 of them available nationwide.
Also, as a result of the President’s Affordable Care Act, the FEHB program covers more than 400,000 young people between the ages of 22 and 26 under their parents’ plans. The ACA has not only expanded coverage for uninsured Americans, it has increased competition and accountability. Those improvements, along with the increased efficiency in the health care system, have resulted in lower cost increases in the FEHB and elsewhere. The FEHB Program offers comprehensive preventive services at no cost, also mandated by the ACA. And many plans provide incentives for participation in wellness activities.
This fall’s Open Season for health, dental and vision insurance, as well as for the flexible spending accounts, will be from November 10 to December 8. During that time, employees and retirees will have the chance to review their current plans and make any changes they desire for the following year. Eligible employees who are not currently a part of FEHB may also enroll for the first time. I urge all Federal employees to take this time to review their plan choices and decide what is best for their families.
This is also the first time employees will be able to enroll in the flexible spending account program for just a $100 minimum deposit. And for the first time, participants in the health care flexible spending account will be able to carry up to $500 of unused funds into the following year.
More detailed breakdowns of the FEHB Program premium rates and the FEDVIP rates are available at OPM.gov. Employees can also use some handy comparison tools on the site to find the plan that works best for them.
It is so important to me that everyone in our Federal family has the peace of mind to know that they and their loved ones are protected and covered for life’s health emergencies and for the preventive care that helps keeps us all safe and secure. I’m happy to report that once again, your FEHB Program is providing these benefits at a cost that is affordable to our deserving, hard-working Federal workforce.
I know everyone is inundated with holiday sales and limited time offers, but here is one limited time offer that you should pay attention to. This Monday, December 9, is the last day to make changes to your benefits for next year.
So why not take a few minutes today and review your options. Open Season allows for you to make changes to your Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) coverage, the amount of contributions to your Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS), and coverage for under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
If you want to stay in the same FEHB or FEDVIP plan, you don’t have to do anything. But remember, you have to re-enroll every year for the Flexible Spending Account program. Visit our Open Season website for general questions, to review plan options, and for all the information you’ll need. And if you still have questions, contact your agency human resources office.
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