The 2016 FEHB open season ran from November 9 through December 14, 2015. However, the addition of a new enrollment category – self plus one – was unprecedented and resulted in a higher number of enrollees making – or considering making – changes.

Self plus one is designed for enrollees with only one eligible family member, who long have complained about paying family plan premiums at the same rate as those with multiple eligible family members. (Yes, you can elect self plus one even if you have more than one family member who is eligible—in that case you would designate the “one”—but that would mean any others would have to get their health coverage elsewhere.) Some of them might have passed up on the opportunity – out of confusion, inertia, whatever — and now wish they had made the switch.

Because to this OPM is conducting a special “limited enrollment period” running the month of February. This is not a new open season, nor an extension of the previous one. It is simply a second chance to downgrade from family coverage to self plus one, within the same plan.

There is now less than a week in that period, so this is fair warning. If you don’t make the switch now, in most cases you will have to wait until the fall. In many cases that will mean continuing to pay higher premiums as a family plan enrollee than you would as a self plus one enrollee. (There are some plans in which the difference is negligible, or self plus one actually is more expensive to the enrollee.)

It is limited to employees who are enrolled in the self and family option and who want to change their enrollment to self plus one of the same plan. No switching from one plan to another, no increasing levels of coverage, no new enrollments (although some changes are allowed outside of an open season if you experience certain life events; those policies are the same as always).

This special opportunity doesn’t apply to annuitants or to employees who are not participating in premium conversion, because they can decrease their enrollment category at any time.

Any changes will be prospective to the first day of the first pay period following the one in which the change is requested.

To change from self and family to self plus one, you’ll need to fill out Standard Form 2809, Health Benefits Election Form, available at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf2809.pdf, and take it to your personnel office.