Federal Benefits Open Season is Coming! Give It Some Thought

By: Maureen Wilkin, Federal Benefits Specialist, NITP

Published: November 2019
Federal Benefits Open Season for health insurance, dental and vision insurance, and the flexible spending program will begin this year on November 11 and run through December 9. The number of participants who will make changes to existing enrollments will be quite low, as usual, and even fewer new enrollments will occur. Why? Complacency and aversion to change are the main reasons.

Even if you like your present insurance coverage, there are certain times in life when you should carefully evaluate whether you have the best enrollments for your life situation. BEFORE Open Season is the time to begin thinking about your present benefit enrollments to be certain they will meet your needs in the coming calendar year.

If you have a qualifying life event outside of the open season, you can usually make changes to your existing enrollments. However, what may be a life event to you is not always a qualifying life event for insurance program purposes. So, it’s time to look ahead and consider the possibilities!

In the coming year, will you:

  • Have a child
    • Be sure your health plan has adequate maternity benefits
    • Review your health plan’s coverage for childbirth/delivery options
  • Move
    • If you have a nationwide health plan enrollment, evaluate how it would work for you in the new location (doctors, facilities, etc.)
  • Retire
    • If you are relocating in retirement and have a nationwide health plan enrollment, evaluate how it would work for you in the new location (doctors, facilities, etc.)
    • Do you need to add your spouse to your health benefits enrollment? (survivor benefit consideration)
    • Retirement is NOT a qualifying life event
    • Remember that flexible spending accounts are NOT available in retirement
    • You do NOT need 5 years of coverage to have dental and vision insurance in retirement
  • Become eligible for Medicare
    • You will have a health benefit qualifying life event opportunity around your birthday; NOW begin to evaluate health plans for costs, coordination with Medicare, and coverage

What type of health plan might be best for you?

See this OPM information about the various FEHB plan types: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plan-types/

Happy shopping!!

Ms. Wilkin is a retired Federal employee who was a Benefits Specialist for 38 years and was involved with Federal employee training for over 20 years.  Since then, she has been a seminar presenter for NITP.