Dental and vision benefits are now open to many part-time, temporary and seasonal federal employees
A rule finalized Tuesday makes nearly 200,000 additional federal employees, including postal workers, eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program.
The Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday finalized new regulations to grant nearly 200,000 federal employees access to the federal government’s dental and vision insurance program.
A final rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register extends eligibility to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program to temporary and part-time federal workers, including postal employees, who work at least 130 hours per month for 90 or more days. Additionally, it extends FEDVIP eligibility to temporary and intermittent federal firefighters and other first responders, whose shifts often do not meet the 130-hour per month for at least 90 days threshold.
Federal firefighters and other first responders have had access to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program since 2012, while other temporary and seasonal federal employees were granted access to FEHBP in 2015.
When OPM first proposed the new regulations in 2021, it estimated that around 86,000 federal workers would become newly eligible for the government’s dental and vision insurance program upon implementation. In Tuesday’s filing, OPM cited data from last September to estimate that, when including postal employees, more than 190,000 federal workers will now be eligible for FEDVIP.
“As of September 2022, OPM estimates 72,100 federal employees in the impacted categories would become eligible for FEDVIP,” the agency wrote. “As of fiscal year 2022, approximately 118,609 postal employees in the impacted categories would become eligible for FEDVIP.”
In addition to expanding eligibility for FEDVIP, the new rule also creates a new exception to allow program participants to decrease or cancel their enrollment if they become eligible for dental or vision services from the Veterans Affairs Department, provided they pay their premiums on a post-tax basis.
“For enrollees requesting to cancel enrollment, the enrollee must submit the request within 60 days of notification of eligibility for VA dental or vision benefits,” OPM wrote. “OPM is also clarifying that these exceptions are not qualifying life events, but rather exceptions for this group of enrollees, namely veterans, and only applies to enrollees who do not pay premiums on a pre-tax basis.”
The rule also allows active duty service members to enroll in FEDVIP up to 31 days before their retirement date. Prior to today, retiring members of the military could enroll in FEDVIP any time within 60 days after they transition into retirement, but that system often created an issue where the service member was not covered for dental or vision care for as long as a month.
Feds who become eligible for VA dental and vision benefits and are paying their FEDVIP premiums pre-tax—known as premium conversion—must wait until the federal government’s annual Open Season event in the fall to decrease or cancel their enrollment.
Beginning with Tuesday’s issuance of the final rule, OPM will hold a special 60-day enrollment period for those newly eligible for dental and vision benefits. Each federal agency is responsible for notifying its part-time, temporary and seasonal workers if they are eligible to enroll.
“If a federal or postal employee is on a temporary appointment or seasonal or intermittent schedule and is expected to work or does work 130 hours per calendar month, for at least 90 days, then the individual is eligible to enroll upon notification by their employing office,” OPM wrote. “[Employing] offices must determine eligibility of new and current employees and upon determining eligibility, promptly offer employees made eligible by this rule an opportunity to enroll in FEDVIP.”