Question: When will the health insurance open season be held this year, and what changes should I expect?
Answer: From Nov. 13 to Dec. 11, federal employees can enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for 2018, and those already enrolled can change plans, change coverage options (between self-only and self-and-family, for example) or change levels of coverage within plans that have more than one level. Retirees generally cannot join but can make the other types of changes if they have remained enrolled continuously.
The Office of Personnel Management’s instructions to insurance companies did not call for major coverage changes, although specifics can and do change. Check plan terms when details become available just ahead of the open season.
Premiums typically are announced earlier, in September. Increases have averaged about 7 percent the past several years — but remember, those are averages, and a given plan’s numbers can be much higher or lower. Also, each year a few plans typically end certain offerings or drop out, and some new plans usually join.
The open season also applies to the separate Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program and for electing dependent care and/or health-care flexible spending accounts.