Open Season is Here: What’s New, Your Options and How to Save Money

This year’s open season runs from Nov. 13 through Dec. 13. Unless you plan on experiencing a major life event, like the birth of a child, this is the only time of year to make changes to your health insurance, including dental and vision plans.

During Open Season, you can:

• Change your insurance plan, or any of its options under FEHBP, or you can keep your same plan;

• Modify enrollment type such as moving from self-only to family coverage;

• Cancel coverage;

• Enroll in FEDVIP, the government dental and vision program. Enrollees pay all the costs, but benefit from lower premiums from group purchasing;

• Waive coverage under the premium conversion program, where your premiums are deducted from pretax income, thus savings on taxes; and

• Enroll in flexible spending accounts under FSAFEDS program. Even if you are not making changes, employees must re-enroll each year to continue that coverage.

What to know for 2018:

• Total premiums will rise by an average of 4.0 percent; and

• Vision plan premiums will decrease by 0.48 percent and average dental plan premiums will increase by 1.26 percent.

Free Online Help

With so many choices, NTEU offers a member-only exclusive to help make the best decision for yourself and your family. The respected Consumers’ Checkbook Online Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants is a wealth of information to help compare plan costs, look at quality ratings and examine flexibility on issues like choice of doctors and more. With the Checkbook, rank plan costs easily, including premiums and estimated out-of-pocket costs, co-payments and prescription drugs.

Open Season TIP

Do not focus solely on premiums. Review what the plan covers, available network doctors, prescription drug copays and foreseeable life changes in the upcoming year. Also, be sure to understand how the deductible works in the plan you are considering.