There seems to be some continuing misunderstanding regarding the relationship between the FEHB and FEDVIP programs, an issue that often arises during the annual benefits open season.

Many apparently view the FEDVIP and FEHB programs as a set–some even believe FEDVIP is an option within FEHB–in part because enrollment options and eligibility rules are largely the same, and some carriers participate in both. Also, unlike in the flexible spending account program, enrollment continues from one year to the next in both unless changed in the open season.

However, the two programs operate independently. There is no requirement to enroll in one to be eligible for the other, and for those covered under both, enrollment choices can differ. There is no requirement to have the same type of enrollment in both–an enrollee could have a self-only enrollment in one but a self-and-family enrollment in the other, for example.

Also, where a carrier participates in both, there is no requirement that an enrollee who chooses that carrier in one program must use that same carrier for the other. Similarly, within FEDVIP several carriers offer both vision and dental plans but there is no requirement to use the same carrier for each.

In the FEHB, eligibility for non-disabled children cuts off at age 26 while in FEDVIP it stops at age 22 (and children further must be unmarried and financially dependent on the enrollee even below that lower age). Also, in the FEHB a retiree generally must remain continuously enrolled to remain eligible while there is no such restriction in FEDVIP.