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2020 FEHB Open Season: Tips for Preparing

Federal Civilian Life

Each year, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Open Season to allow you to evaluate your circumstances and options, and make changes to benefits.

Over the course of a year, a lot can change for you and your family. If you got married, bought a home, or had a child, you may need a different level of coverage. Or, you may want to price-compare different plans, and find the one that best suits your unique situation.

COVID-19 may also play a part in your considerations this Open Season. As we have seen, unprecedented global changes can shake up life as we know it. If you want to alter your insurance policies to help ensure your family would be protected in worst-case-scenarios, Open Season is the time to make modifications.

When Is FEHB Open Season?

This year, Open Season runs from Monday, November 9, 2020 through Monday, December 14, 2020. Changes made go into effect on January 1, 2021. During this period, active federal employees can complete the following tasks:

  • Enroll in a Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for the first time.
  • Change health plans or change options within a program.
  • Opt-out of a plan in which you’re enrolled.
  • Change your enrollment type (self-only, self plus one, or family coverage).
  • Adjust your contribution to your Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for dependent care or health care.

Retirees cannot enroll in a medical plan for the first time, but they can make changes to plans in which they are currently enrolled.

What’s New for OPM Open Season this year?

As a result of COVID-19, most agencies will not be hosting the usual ‘Open Season Fairs’ allowing employees to talk to representatives about their plans in person. Instead, OPM has encouraged agencies to host these events virtually.

OPM announced they will be increasing the number of dental insurance options from 10 to 12, and the number of vision insurance options from 4 to 5.

What About Benefits Other Than the Medical Plan?

Open Season includes the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program, flexible spending accounts, and life insurance.

Dental and Vision

For the first time since 2013, OPM has expanded the carriers available for dental and vision coverage. Visit Federal News Network for a full outline of the carriers offered.

FSA (Flexible Spending Account)

During Open Season, active employees can sign up for a health care or dependent care flexible spending account (FSA) or both. While medical, dental, and vision enrollments stay the same from year to year unless you make changes, you must re-enroll every year to keep your FSA contributions going.

Life Insurance

The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) do not participate in the annual Federal Benefits Open Season.

While life insurance is not part of Open Season, you can still apply for Group Term Life Insurance* from WAEPA at any time during the year. Open Season is an excellent time to do an annual review of your insurance needs; including life insurance protection as part of that review is an essential step.

How Do I Determine What’s Best for My Situation?

OPM provides an online tool that you can use to compare the various plans available. You can search for the options available to you using your location or employee type, and you can review any changes to the plan you already have.

The most valuable step you can take to determine the best coverage available to you is to assess your own medical and financial situation carefully. Here are a few questions to help you get started:

Existing Medical Conditions

Do you or any covered family member have a medical condition that will require extensive treatment in the new year? If so, it may be worth it to pay more for a plan that pays out more on your claims.

Minimal Medical Needs

If everyone is healthy and only goes in for routine checkups and minor illnesses, you may be better off to pay less for a plan with less coverage while putting away extra cashflow in savings. Consult with a trusted benefits advisor, or your HR department, for more information.

Compare Your Spouse’s Medical Plan

If you are married, compare your coverage with that offered by your partner’s employer. Most people find that plans under the FEHB program provides better coverage at a lower cost, so you may be able to drop the other coverage and save that money.

Open Season serves as a reminder to review all medical, dental, vision, life insurance, and FSA options. Life changes rapidly, and many of those changes should influence your benefit choices. When it comes to life insurance, don’t assume Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) is always the best option.

Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies (WAEPA) offers life insurance For Feds, By Feds. Coverage from WAEPA can serve as an economical supplement or replacement for FEGLI. Last year, Members who switched saved $375 a year on average. Plus, WAEPA offers exclusive member benefits tailored specifically to Civilian Feds and their families, including free financial planning, premium refunds,** scholarships, and more. Learn more about WAEPA today.

*Underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company, 51 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010 on Policy Form GMR

*Premium refunds not guaranteed