Open Season Cheat Sheet

Welcome to your Open Season Cheat Sheet!

To review, Open Season is the one month each year (typically in November) that federal employees, retirees, and annuitants have to enroll, change, or cancel their participation in a federal health plan. These federal health plans also include those relating to dental and vision coverage plan, or the establishment and use of a flexible spending account.

It’s important to remember that during Open Season, you also have the opportunity to modify the family members covered by your insurance. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule that you are only allowed to make changes to your health insurance during Open Season. These exceptions are called Qualifying Life Events and they include the following:

  • A change in employment status
  • A change in family status
  • Loss of coverage by either the enrollee or his/her family members

If one of these events occurs, you have the opportunity to modify your health insurance within a limited amount of time (usually 60 days).

With Open Season here, here are some questions to ask yourself, your doctors, and your agency’s health insurance professional in preparation:

Questions to ask yourself:

What are your health needs?

Answering this question will help you to determine what types of procedures you will need covered by insurance. To respond, evaluate your medical expenses from the previous year and consider your upcoming health needs, for you and your dependents.

What are your health care priorities?

We found that for many of our survey respondents and interviewees, once they knew their priorities concerning costs, coverage, and convenience of health care, the field of choices was much more narrow and easier to manage.

How much can you afford?

We all want to save money, but the easiest way to do that may not be in selecting the cheapest plan. If you do that, but the plan does not provide the right amount of coverage, you could end up spending more money in the long run. So be realistic about what you need covered and about what you can afford and find the best insurance from there.

Questions to ask your doctor:

What are my health needs?

You understand your body best and what it needs, but your doctor can provide key insights into any upcoming procedures or prescriptions.

What plans and/or providers are you with?

Our survey respondents and interviewees all agreed that it’s more important to select your doctor first and then your plan later, based on your doctor’s network.

Questions to ask your health insurance professional: 

Where can I go for information?

Your health insurance professional is aware of the different online, paper, and agency resources that you can reference, and can give you tips for using them. They also are a valuable resource for you when it comes to deciphering some of the jargon associated with health insurance benefits and rules.

Which plans do I qualify for? Your health insurance specialist will be able to tell you which plans you qualify for based on factors such as your location, age, family and employment status. These insights will help you make more effective decisions when selecting a health care plan.

This Open Season blog series is brought to you by: 

Aetna Federal Plans

Read the first post in the series here.

Visit to find the plan that’s best for you. Or call us at 1-877-459-6604.

Choose your plan starting November 9. 

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