Reg Jones Expert's View

One of the best features of the Federal Employees Health Benefits program is your annual opportunity to select a plan that meets your health and financial needs.

This year’s FEHB Open Season runs from Monday, November 13 through Monday, December 11, with an effective date of January 1, 2018. If you are already enrolled, you can stay in your current plan or change to another. If you haven’t enrolled but are eligible to do so, you can do that during Open Season. (In my November 29 column, I’ll address why enrollment—or coverage under a spouse’s enrollment—is important for carrying FEHB into retirement.)

FEHB enrollees share in the premium cost. By law the government pays the lion’s share with enrollees paying the rest. This year the average enrollee share will increase by 6.1 percent. However, premium increases in some plans and options will be lower and some higher than that amount, in a few cases much higher. To review the premium rates for all plans and options, go to To do a more refined plan and option search, go to

While most plan changes occur during the annual Open Season, some can be made at other times during the year. For example,

• newly eligible employees may enroll within 60 days of their becoming eligible for the program,

• plan members who move outside of the area covered by their plan may enroll in a different plan covering their new location, and

• OPM may announce special opportunities to change enrollments when a plan drops out of the program.

The 2018 Open Season is here. So you need to get ahead of the game by studying the wide range of plans and options available. Even if you end up staying where you are, you’ll still be better informed about what your costs and benefits will be in 2018.