The 2021 Open Season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits program will begin next Monday (November 9) and continue through December 14. This is the time when employees can review the plan they are in, make changes in their plan or option, and – if they aren’t already enrolled in the FEHB program – enroll in it. It’s also a time when retirees who are enrolled in the program can decide if they want to change the level and kind of coverage they have.
Open season also is the time for newly enrolling or making changes in the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program (note: in contrast to FEHB, retirees can newly enroll in FEDVIP) and for employees to select flexible spending accounts for 2021. But almost all of the attention to open season is on the FEHB.
If you are an employee or already enrolled retiree, you will have 276 plan choices, a net of three fewer than this year, after some additions and dropouts. While the number of choices available to you will depend on such things as your geographic location or your membership in a specific union, everyone will have access to a minimum of 18 nationwide plans. In a major city area, you might have about an equal number of HMO options; in more rural areas, possibly only a few.
Information on plans available by geographic location can be found in the OPM Plan Comparison Tool; follow the link from https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/premiums.
While the 2021 premium increases are generally less than those for private sector employees, they will still put a dent in your budget. The enrollee cost will rise an average of 4.9%, which consists of, on average:
• 4.7% more for self only
• 5.2% more for self plus one
• 4.9% more for self and family
This year several actions have been taken by OPM to safeguard the health and well-being of federal employees and annuitants during the CVID-19 pandemic. “All FEHB Carriers waived cost-sharing and prior authorization requirements for COVID-19 diagnostic and testing in response to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Relief, and Economic Security ACT (CARES Act). To facilitate and support the Federal workforce’s ability to receive telehealth or other remote healthcare services associated with the treatment of COVID-19, FEHB Carriers were strongly encouraged to waive associated cost-sharing and prior authorization requirements. Once an FDA-approved vaccine becomes available for COVID-19, all FEHB carriers must rapidly cover it without any cost-sharing in less than 15 business days.”