Fedweek

December 13 is the last day of the current open season for electing or changing coverage in FEHB and FEDVIP for the 2022 plan (calendar) year of each program.

If current enrollees make no changes, they will retain the same coverage next year, subject to new premium rates and coverage terms. In practice, only single-digit percentages change plans, levels of coverage within plans that have more than one, or type of enrollment (between family coverage and self plus one, for example).

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Overall, coverage terms in both programs will be largely stable. While the enrollee share of FEHB premiums on average is increasing by 3.8 percent, within that average there are variations among plans, including some decreases. Also, there are some coverage differences that could be important to an individual, and as health care needs change another plan might be a better choice.

Before the deadline, experts advise that enrollees should, at the minimum: make sure that their plan is remaining available (there are some dropouts); review their plan’s benefits package (plan brochures contain a page highlighting changes from the prior year); understand what is happening with premiums and out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and copays; check if their preferred physicians and other care providers remain available in networks under the plan; and look into the costs and terms of other plans available to them at least enough to see whether they merit a closer look.

Further, in some plans self plus one coverage is more expensive that self and family coverage—although in many cases the difference is minor. That anomaly is largely due to the high rates of enrollment of late-career employees and retirees—who on average consume more health care—in self plus one. An enrollee who is seeking coverage for just one other individual is free to choose the family option.

In the FEDVIP program premiums are rising by just under 1 percent on average.

In contrast to the FEHB and FEDVIP programs, a new enrollment is required each year for those who want a health care flexible spending account, a dependent care account, or both in the following year. The dependent care maximum remains $5,000 while the health care maximum is rising $2,850.

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