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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

OPM Announces More Flexibility for Dental and Vision Coverage

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Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock.com

Federal employees who get married on the job, or return to work after a period of leave without pay, soon will be able to enroll for dental and vision coverage outside of Open Season.

The Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday announced the final rule making it easier for feds with certain “qualifying life events” to change their dental and vision benefits close to when the event occurs, rather than waiting for the annual open season window in November. The purpose of the “expanded enrollment opportunities” is to “better align” the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program with enrollees’ overall health care plan when their life circumstances change, the rule stated.

The new rule takes effect Aug. 15.

OPM defines qualifying life events for federal employees as getting married; having their pension or compensation restored after it was terminated; returning to pay status after being on leave without pay because of deployment to active military duty; or returning to federal employment after being on leave without pay, if the employee did not have federal dental or vision coverage before going on LWOP, or the coverage was terminated or canceled during the leave without pay.

The time frames within which eligible employees can enroll in a dental and vision plan or change their coverage are as follows:

  • Within 60 days of a return to service following a break in service of at least 30 days;
  • From 31 days before an employee or eligible family member loses other dental/vision coverage to 60 days after a qualifying life event that allows the employee to enroll;
  • From 31 days before an employee gets married to 60 days after; or
  • Within 60 days after returning to federal employment after being on leave without pay, if the employee did not have dental or vision coverage prior to his leave, or if the coverage was terminated or canceled during the leave.

OPM added four carriers in 2014 to its dental and vision portfolio, for a total of 14 insurance contracts.

TRICARE Options Overseas

TRICARE beneficiaries living abroad who want to know what their health care options are should tune into a July 17 Webinar at 1:00 p.m. EST, hosted by TRICARE and Military OneSource.

TRICARE Prime Overseas is available to active duty service members and their family members living together in non-remote overseas locations. Those living in designated remote locations can enroll in TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas.

To sign up for the Webinar, go to https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/681790058.

(Image via Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock.com)

Kellie Lunney covers federal pay and benefits issues, the budget process and financial management. After starting her career in journalism at Government Executive in 2000, she returned in 2008 after four years at sister publication National Journal writing profiles of influential Washingtonians. In 2006, she received a fellowship at the Ohio State University through the Kiplinger Public Affairs in Journalism program, where she worked on a project that looked at rebuilding affordable housing in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. She has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR and Feature Story News, where she participated in a weekly radio roundtable on the 2008 presidential campaign. In the late 1990s, she worked at the Housing and Urban Development Department as a career employee. She is a graduate of Colgate University.

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