2021 FEHB Open Season: Tips for PreparingPay & Benefits
A lot can change for you and your family in a year. Life-changing events such as a marriage or the birth of a child may require new levels of coverage. , Open Season gives you the opportunity to compare different plans and find the best one for you.
COVID-19 may also impact your decisions. Unprecedented global changes have forever altered life as we know it, so if you want to alter your insurance policy to protect against worst-case-scenarios, Open Season is the time to do it.
When Is FEHB Open Season?
This year, Open Season runs from Monday, November 8, 2021 through Monday, December 13, 2021. Changes go into effect on January 1, 2022. During this period, active federal employees can do the following:
- Enroll in a Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for the first time
- Change health plans or 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 contributions 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 their current enrollments.
What’s New for OPM Open Season this year?
Federal employees should expect an increase in health insurance rates, but it will be modest compared to recent years. As a result of COVID-19, Feds are using health care less frequently, but that’s starting to change. This could impact premiums in the future.
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
The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program offers eligible participants a choice between 12 dental and 5 vision carriers.
FSA (Flexible Spending Account)
During Open Season, active employees can sign up for health care, a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA), or both. Medical, dental, and vision enrollments roll over unless you make changes, but you must re-enroll every year to keep your FSA contributions going.
The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) do not participate in 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 life insurance needs.
How Do I Determine What’s Best for My Situation?
OPM provides an online tool to compare the available plans/rates. You can search for available options based on location or employee type and you can review changes to your existing plan.
The most important step is to carefully assess your own medical and financial situation. Here are some 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 2022? If so, it may be worth purchasing a plan that pays out more on your claims.
Minimal Medical Needs
If you have a healthy family and only anticipate minor illnesses, a less expensive plan can help you build up your savings account. 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 the options offered by your spouse’s employer. The FEHB program often provides better coverage at a lower cost, so switching plans can help save money without sacrificing benefits.
Open Season provides the opportunity to review your medical, dental, vision, life insurance, and FSA options. Life-changing events can influence your benefit choices, but when it comes to life insurance, don’t assume Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) is 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. On average, members who switched from FEGLI to WAEPA saved over $290 a year. WAEPA also 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.
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*Underwritten by New York Life Insurance Company, 51 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010 on Policy Form GMR
**Premium refunds not guaranteed