OPM has finalized rules to carry out several benefits-related provisions enacted into law in reaction to the partial government shutdown over December 2018-January 2019.
The rules designate many features of federal employee insurance programs as “emergency services” that can continue in a partial shutdown regardless of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which in general bars agencies from operating without appropriated funds.
Under the rules, during a funding lapse, employees will be allowed to continue enrolling, changing enrollment or making certain other changes in the FEHB health insurance and FEGLI life insurance programs. Also, enrollment in the FEDVIP vision-dental insurance program and the FLTCIP long-term care insurance program would not be canceled for nonpayment of premiums. Instead, premiums would be paid from back pay after employees are put back in pay status.
Under previous policy, FEHB coverage has continued during a funding lapse and employees in non-pay status have had to make up the difference after funding is restored. However, in the FLTCIP and FEDVIP programs, coverage can be lost if the enrollee misses several premium payments—a concern that arose for some employees as that shutdown dragged on. FEGLI insurance continues without cost to the employee.