Next Monday, November 9, through December 14 is open season for federal benefits enrollment. At this time, you will be able to enroll in or make changes to your Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), and Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS). To help you prepare for open season, here are some tips and important changes to note.
- FEHB is offering a new enrollment type known as Self Plus One. As the name indicates, this program will allow enrollees to insure themselves plus one eligible family member, rather than requiring an employee to enroll in family coverage. Eligible family members include spouses, children under age 26, or those children over age 26 who are incapable of self support because of a disability.
- Six plans are leaving FEHB for the 2016 coverage year: Coventry Health Plan of Florida, Coventry Health Plan of Louisiana, Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana, Fallon Community Health Plan of Massachusetts, The Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley, Inc., and Piedmont Community Health Plan. These changes will affect federal employees in seven states.
- Aetna’s Open Access plan is reducing its service area for the 2016 coverage year. If you had this coverage for the 2015 plan year, check to ensure that you are still within the coverage area if you plan to continue coverage under this plan in 2016.
- You can enroll for services either through your agency’s online self-help portal or by submitting form SF 2809, the Health Benefits Election Form.
- If you do not make any changes to your plan, you will automatically be re-enrolled in your 2015 plan.
- OPM has a host of websites to help you compare FEHB plans, including:
- To talk with someone about your various plan options, visit the FEHB website to find contact information for the health insurance plan you want to learn more about.
- Don’t forget to re-enroll in your FSAFEDS flexible spending account. Your enrollment will not carry over from previous years, so if you are interested in maintaining your plan, you must take action to do so. While your enrollment does not carry over, unspent funds up to $500 from 2015 will carry over to 2016 as long as you re-enroll. There is no longer a grace period for use of these funds.
- If you choose to sign up for a FSAFEDS account, you must elect to put at least $100 into the plan. The max is $2,550 per individual, or $5,000 per household for dependent costs. The funds will come directly out of your pay.
- When determining how much to put into your FSA, find out what counts as an eligible expense by visiting FSA Eligible Expenses. Note that the dependent FSA account will allow you to cover some care expenses, such as child daycare and adult daycare.
- If you want to estimate how much you should consider setting aside, use the FSAFEDS calculator.
- If you have a question about FSAFEDS, you can contact 877-372-3337 or email [email protected]
- The only place you can enroll in a FEDVIP plan is through BENEFEDS (either by calling or going to the BENEFEDS website). This is also the only place you can change or cancel your coverage.
- If you do not wish to make any changes to your 2015 plan for the 2016 benefits year, you will automatically be re-enrolled in your current plan.
- OPM has compiled information on the various plan options:
- To enroll, visit www.BENEFEDS.com, or call 1-877-888-FEDS. You cannot enroll in FEDVIP though your agency self-service portal.
- You can find plan brochures, premium charts, enrollment information, and more on OPM’s health insurance website.
- A summary of plan benefits is available on OPM’s website and it includes information on cost and coverage to help you compare plans before deciding which you’d like to choose. While this is a great comparison tool, it’s important to look at each of the plan brochures of those you might be interested in, as they are the official summary of benefits.
- If you choose to enroll in both FEHB and FEDVIP, FEHB will be your first payer for dental and vision expenses that might be covered under your FEHB plan. Depending on your needs for the year, having coverage from both could save you money.
- Whether or not you were happy with your 2015 benefits, it’s beneficial to review what coverage options are available to you and how your current benefit package may have changed. When determining what type of coverage you’d like in the coming year, here are a few things to think about:
- Will you have surgery or a baby in 2016?
- Are you planning on braces, crowns, or other dental work, or will you just need routine visits?
- Do you need new glasses or will you be purchasing contacts?
- Do you expect your medications to change in the coming years?
- What out-of-pocket expenses do you expect, including co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance?
- Will you have daycare expenses for a dependent?
- If your agency offers free access (or if you want to pay the approximately $10) you can access the Consumers’ Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees & Annuitants to see all of the plans available to you, coverage costs, and estimated out-of-pocket expenses.
Additionally, make sure to read our GovLoop Guide, OPEN SEASON IN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: PICKING YOUR PERFECT PLAN.
This Open Season blog series is brought to you by:
Aetna Federal Plans
Visit aetnafeds.com to find the plan that’s best for you. Or call us at 1-877-459-6604.
Choose your plan starting November 9.