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Q&A for federal workers: Open season options

By Eric Yoder

November 7, 2017 at 6:00 AM

(Nigel Carse/iStock)

Question: I’m happy with my benefits. Can’t I just sit out the open season coming up?

Answer: You can, but that doesn’t mean nothing will change.

From Nov. 13 through Dec. 11, federal workers not in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program may join for 2018 — retirees generally can’t newly enroll. Anyone already enrolled can switch plans or levels of coverage or leave them to continue unchanged. But at least be sure your plan isn’t among the few dropping out, and if it’s continuing, check for changes in coverage, out of pocket costs and premiums.

Also, both employees and retirees may newly enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, where the available plans will stay the same. As with the FEHBP, current enrollment continues for those who do nothing, subject to changes in a plan’s coverage and costs.

However, if you want a health-care flexible spending account, a dependent care account or both next year, you must make an election even if you already are enrolled. The maximum is rising by $50 to $2,650 in the former, while the cap on the latter will remain $5,000. FSAs are available only to active employees, not to retirees.

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