Federal Employees News Digest

OPM: Special sign-up this summer

If you haven’t already done so, June is a special enrollment month for joining or altering selections in health savings accounts for government employees—the Federal Spending Account Program, known as FSAFEDS.

“Employees may enroll and participants may increase or decrease their current elections through the 2021 Special Enrollment Period (SEP), held from June 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021,” the FSAFEDS announcement states. “This will allow those who did not enroll or re-enroll for 2021 during Open Season the opportunity to enroll for 2021 and gain access to available 2020 carryover funds.”

Normally, the FSAFEDS enrollment and change options window opens only during the Federal Benefits Open Season, normally stretching between mid-November to mid-December each year.

Federal employee health insurance—for most feds, the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP)—is renowned for being comparatively well-priced and of high quality, covering most healthcare costs, including those incurred for prevention, emergencies and major illnesses.

Yet, just like private-sector health insurance, FEHBP doesn’t cover certain healthcare expenses. Hence, the need for individual health savings accounts, or HSAs—financial instruments pioneered over the past two decades which allow enrollees to set aside pre-tax income for specific services. For folks in federal employment, HSAs were rolled out in the form of FSAFEDS.

The FSAFEDS program offers Health Care and Limited Expense Health Care accounts, each with different options available. As an enrollee, you can use funds that you set aside in them to pay for qualifying items not covered under FEHBP, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or any other health insurance you might have.

Items not covered by health insurance but eligible for HSA payment typically include smaller expenses—compared with the cost of, say, an emergency room visit or surgery—but expenses which can pile up nonetheless. These include co-pays and co-insurance for office visits and procedures, bills for health services, healthcare items for family members not under your health insurance, eyeglasses or contact lenses, chiropractic services, and other costs. Consult your health insurance program and the FSAFEDS website to estimate your own potential savings.  

In short, this summer’s special enrollment period provides federal families an extra opportunity to save on health expenditures. It allows those who missed last fall’s window a second shot at trimming costs by using pre-tax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket health items. FSAFEDS and the special window are endorsed by federal employee organizations—for example, in a recent release from the National Treasury Employees Union. If interested, check updates on other FSAFEDS news at FSAFEDS.com. 

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