Reg Jones Expert's View

Okay, during the Federal Employees Health Benefits Open Season you either changed health benefits plans or stood pat with the plan you had. And you are beginning to wonder when you’ll see the new premiums reflected in your pay check. That’s easy. For employees, it will show up in the first pay you earn in 2012. For retirees, it will show up in your February annuity payment.

If you changed plans, you’re also wondering when your old coverage will end and when your new coverage will begin. That’s easy, too. Any covered services rendered in 2011 will be paid by your former plan, regardless of when the bill comes in. Any covered services rendered on or after January 1, 2012 will be paid by your new plan.

While the shift from one plan to another isn’t always seamless, it rarely causes a problem. And when it does, it can be sorted out without too much difficulty. Still there will be those situations in which 1) you are either confined in the hospital or receiving a series of treatments, either of which crosses the boundary between 2011 and 2012 and 2) you haven’t yet gotten an insurance card from your new plan.

While that can be awkward it shouldn’t be a cause for panic. Just make sure that you know how to contact your new plan. You have that information in the open season material you relied on when you decided to switch plans. If you can’t find it, go to and download what you need, including your new plan’s phone number.

In short, there won’t be any gap in your coverage when you change plans, even if there is an occasional bump in the road. Fortunately, employees and retirees have been changing plans every year for the past 50 years. As a result, nearly all health providers know about the FEHB open season and can accommodate to any enrollment changes.

P.S. If you’re not pleased with the change in plans you made, there’s always next year.