Mark your calendars: The upcoming federal benefits open season for 2019 calendar year will run from Nov. 12 to Dec. 10, 2018. This is the time of year when federal employees and retirees can make changes to their health care, dental and vision benefits, and set up elections for flexible spending accounts (FSA).
During open season, employees may enroll, change (for example, between self-only and family coverage) or cancel participation in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) or flexible spending accounts (FSAFEDS).
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will announce health care premiums and post plan materials and resources on its website later this fall. During the open season period, NTEU members will have free, exclusive access to the Consumers’ Checkbook Online Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants. Checkbook helps users pick the right health care plan by comparing costs, looking at quality ratings and examining flexibility on issues like choice of doctors. It also ranks plans on total costs, including premiums and estimated out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-payments and prescription drugs.
Employees must re-enroll in FSAs annually, even if they aren’t making any changes to their current elections, to continue that coverage. Under current IRS rules, the minimum annual election amount is $100, while the maximum is $2,650 per participant and $5,000 for dependent care. Any future changes to contribution levels by the IRS will be offered by FSAFEDS. Information is available here and by calling 1-877-372-3337.
Outside of open season, employees can enroll in the FEHBP or make changes to coverage only in connection with certain events called qualifying life events.
Got questions? Active employees should contact their agency’s Human Resources Office with health plan and enrollment questions, while retirees should contact OPM. Questions about a specific insurance plan can be directed to the insurance carrier. Dental and vision plan questions can be answered by calling BENEFEDS at 1-877-888-3337 or visiting www.benefeds.com.
Read this Benefits Administration Letter to learn more about open season or OPM's website.