Time Is Running Out for Feds to Change Health Insurance Elections for 2021
A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.
Federal employees now have less than two weeks until the deadline to change their benefits selections as part of the federal government’s health insurance programs, with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program’s annual open season set to end on Dec. 14.
Experts say that it is important for employees to review the health care options available to them each year, particularly when the average premium increase, based on feds’ current insurance choices, is set at 4.9% in 2021 according to the Office of Personnel Management. The increase for next year is smaller than last year, when the average increase was 5.6%, but sharply higher than the 1.5% increase employees saw in 2019.
On average, non-postal federal workers will spend an additional $7.89 per paycheck in premiums next year, OPM has said. Employees enrolled in “self-only” plans will see an increase of $4.67 per pay period, while family plans will cost an additional $10.94 per paycheck on average, and workers in ”self plus one” plans will pay an additional $10.90 next year.
This year, OPM has revamped its online plan comparison tool to include additional information to help show retirees how individual insurance plans interact with Medicare. And insurance carriers are working to provide greater transparency on which hospitals and other urgent care facilities—and their staff—are in network, which officials hope will reduce instances of surprise medical billing.
When it comes to supplemental insurance programs, new contracts for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program mean that federal workers will have more options from which to choose. Beginning with this open season period, the number of dental insurers available to federal workers will increase from 10 to 12, while the number of vision carriers will grow from four to five.
Officials have encouraged employees to take a particularly close look at all of the vision and dental carriers available to them, since the new contract procurement process has led to a number of them providing additional benefits. Those new offerings include additional wellness-focused services, like benefits for pregnancy, children and people with chronic conditions, as well as coverage for up to three dental exams per year for enrollees with diabetes.