Reg Jones Expert's View

While the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program provides a wide range of benefits for federal employees, retirees, and certain family members, it does have gaps, some 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.

If you are an employee of the federal government who is eligible to enroll in the FEHB program, whether or not you choose to do that, you can enroll in the FEDVIP program. You can also enroll in the FEDVIP program if you retired on an immediate annuity. In either case, the decision to enroll is entirely up to you.

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Note: If you are enrolled in the FEHB program, you don’t have to make the same coverage choice. For example, if you had self and family coverage under the FEHB program, you could choose self only or self plus one coverage under FEDVIP.

The rules for family member coverage under FEDVIP differ from those for the FEHB program. Both cover your spouse (including a common law spouse in states where such marriages are recognized). 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.

However, there is a difference regarding coverage of children. In FEHB, eligibility for coverage of children continues to age 26; in FEDVIP, eligibility for coverage continues only to age 22 and the children further must be unmarried and dependent on you. In both cases, there is an exception for children disabled by a condition that occurred before the pertinent age.

You can enroll in FEDVIP (or change coverage) each year during the annual open season. If you don’t plan to change your coverage, your previous choice will remain in effect. While FEHB premiums are subsidized by the federal government, FEDVIP premiums are not. The total cost for this voluntary program is borne by you, the enrollee. The rules for paying the monthly premiums is simple. If you are a retiree, they are deducted from your annuity. If you are an employee, they are deducted from your pay and are paid in pretax dollars.

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

To learn more about FEDVIP benefit coverage, use the plan comparison tool at https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/compare-plans/fedvip/Plans?FFSSearch=on&Medicare=False&ZipCode=20158&IncludeNationwide=True&DentalOrVisionSelection=Vision&payPeriod=a

ask.FEDweek.com: FEDVIP – Dental and Vision Insurance

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