On September 26, OPM announced that in 2019 the average enrollee share of premiums for current non-Postal employees and retirees enrolled in the FEHB program plans will increase by only 1.5 percent. That’s the lowest increase since the 1996 plan year. And the overall average premiums for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) will vary between dental plans (up 1.2 percent) and vision plans (down 2.8 percent).
According to OPM Director Jeff Pon, “While this announcement is welcome news for federal employees and retirees, they should continue to carefully review their plan choices to find the plans and enrollment options that best meet their healthcare needs. I urge them to take advantage of the information available to them to choose wisely this Open Season.”
Open Season begins November 12 and ends December 10. This is the time when you can review your plan choices and make changes to your coverage for the upcoming benefit year that begins January 1. Federal employees may also use Open Season to elect to make pre-tax contributions to health care and/or dependent care flexible spending accounts under the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS). Unfortunately, there is no provision in law that would allow retirees or survivors to do the same.
To help you make your health care plan decisions, OPM has created a plan comparison tool that can help you shop for coverage. The 2019 information will be available beginning the first week in November. To access that site, go to www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/compare-plans. This will be your best opportunity to review the costs and benefits of each plan and option.
Examine your choices carefully, matching your known medical needs against what each plan provides, at what level, and at what cost. Then check again to make sure that there is adequate coverage at a reasonable cost for unexpected – but expensive – needs. Be penny wise, not pound foolish.