Federal Employees News Digest
Feds—It's Open Season!
- By FEND Staff
- Nov 15, 2021
Here we go again. It’s Open Season—that brief stretch each autumn when feds can choose their health and other benefits options for the following year.
This year, Open Season runs from Nov. 8 through Dec. 13. And, as usual, what a lot of options there are to choose from for the following year.
Why is Open Season so important for feds and their families? Chief among the reasons: Because it is a once-a-year opportunity to tailor your benefits—and out-of-pocket costs—to suit your and your family’s needs, avoiding waste or excess expenditure. And, second, because health, dental and vision plans change—some years, quite a bit.
So, feds, take time to do some research—by consulting FEND and our online site, FederalSoup.com, the OPM Open Season home page, various specialty articles on federal health insurance and other information found via online and telephone resources, among others—and optimize your choices.
“Most Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) plans will see benefit and rate changes for the upcoming year, the OPM Open Season page advises. “Some plans are dropping out of the program and others are changing their service areas or coverage options.”
To see what’s going on with your health care choices, you can start by going to OPM’s informational pages—especially their Federal Benefits Open Season Highlights page—which offer details as well as links to additional resources, with information broken down by state and region, and highlights of health insurance plan changes for 2022. The OPM Open Season Comparison Tool is also a great place to start.
Another excellent first step to take would be to consult a leading private-sector organization event or tool designed to help you choose wisely. For decades, among the best of these has been the Consumers’ Checkbook Guide to health plans and benefits—which has remained an excellent source for side-by-side comparison of plans. (Checkbook is a reputable, unbiased private-sector informational resource linking directly off OPM’s site.) Remember, some Checkbook resources are offered free of charge to members of federal employee unions, for instance via this link off the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) site and this one off the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) page.
For another good source, the website of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) offers specific information and a series of virtual Q&A “chat days,” where—after registering—you can get specifics.
The point is, during these weeks, you have the opportunity to go over and rationally choose from the options available to you through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), the flexible spending account (FSA) programs, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) as well as FLTCI.
As AFGE puts it: “Choosing the right health plan is one of the most important decisions you have to make. Rising costs and changing benefits don't make it an easy one.”
So true. But during this fall’s Open Season, as in past years, we at FEND and our FederalSoup website will bring you articles and links spotlighting insights and price changes to FEHBP and other benefit plans with dynamic options on offer to federal employees. Let’s get started!