Fedweek

Rates and coverage terms for the FEHB and FEDVIP programs typically are released in September in advance of the annual federal benefits open season, which this year will run November 12-December 10.

In recent years the enrollee share of premiums has increased in the 6-7 percent range but there typically are substantial differences among plans, with some increases much larger while others remain flat or decrease slightly.

During open season, active employees (but not retirees) may enroll in the FEHB if not already enrolled, and those already enrolled, including retirees, may change plans or change types of coverage—for example, between self-only and family coverage. Both employees and retirees further may newly enroll or change existing enrollments in the FEDVIP vision-dental insurance program.

The “call letter” OPM sent to FEHB carriers early in the year—kicking off the annual negotiations that end with the rate and premiums announcement—once again emphasized controlling prescription drug costs and encouraging participation in wellness programs. It also invited plans to propose new incentives for enrollees to use lower-cost care options.

Separately, as part of the budget proposal, the administration proposed varying the government’s contribution toward premiums depending on a plan’s quality ratings. However, that would require a change in law and Congress has not actively considered that idea.

The FEDVIP program meanwhile experiences few changes in coverage terms year to year. Its premium increases have been in the 2 percent range in recent years.

Read more on FEDVIP – Dental and Vision Insurance at ask.FEDweek.com

The open season also is the opportunity for active employees to enroll for a health care account, a dependent care account or both under the flexible spending account program for the 2019 calendar year. Unlike FEHB and FEDVIP, where enrollments continue unless changed, a new enrollment in the FSA program is required each year.

See also, FEHB and Medicare Coverage at ask.FEDweek.com