Expert's View

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The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program provides a wide range of benefits for federal employees, retirees, and certain family members. However, there are things it doesn’t cover, many of which are filled by the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance program. Under FEDVIP, you have the option of enrolling in dental care, vision care or both.

The decision to enroll in the FEDVIP program is entirely up to you. You don’t have to be enrolled in an FEHB plan. Better still, you can even enroll in the FEDVIP program after you have retired (on an immediate annuity) even though you weren’t enrolled before retirement.

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As with the FEHB, enrollment typically occurs in the benefits open season each fall for the following calendar year, although in both cases enrollments (or changes in enrollments) are allowed due to certain life events such as marriage.

Coverage rules
Like the FEHB, FEDVIP offers the choice of self only, self plus one and self and family coverage. If you are in both programs, you don’t have to make the same coverage choice. For example, if you have self and family coverage under the FEHB, you could choose self only or self plus one coverage under FEDVIP. Survivor annuitants are also eligible to enroll or continue coverage as long as they are receiving an annuity, either on their own or as a survivor annuitant.

One difference in eligibility is that under FEDVIP, children must be unmarried, dependent on you and under the age of 22. Under FEHB, children can remain covered until age 26.

You can either enroll in FEDVIP or change your coverage each year during the annual FEHB Open Season. If you don’t plan to change your coverage, your previous choice will remain in effect.

If you are enrolled in an FEHB plan that doesn’t cover any dental or vision benefits, FEDVIP will be the primary payer of any bills you incur. If it does, FEDVIP will be responsible for coordinating the benefits. The same is true if you have other dental or vision insurance coverage.

Premiums
While FEHB premiums are subsidized by the federal government, FEDVIP premiums aren’t. The total cost for this voluntary program is borne by you, the enrollee.

If you are an employee, premiums are deducted from your pay and are paid in pretax dollars. If you are a retiree, they are deducted from your annuity on an after-tax basis.

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To learn more
To learn more about FEDVIP benefit coverage, use the plan comparison tool here:
https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/compare-plans/fedvip/

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