What to Consider During the 2012 Federal Benefits Open Season
(Nov. 12 - Dec. 10)

November 9, 2012
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Open Season is the time of year when you have the opportunity to make decisions about your benefits under the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS), the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), and the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.

If you already have an FSAFEDS account, it will not continue automatically: you must re-enroll for 2013.

If you take no action, your current enrollment in FEDVIP and/or FEHB will continue automatically for 2013. You will be subject to any changes in premiums, benefits, and service areas (see links at the end of this article for plan brochures and new premium rates).

It is strongly recommended you evaluate your current enrollment status in the benefit programs. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has listed three basic questions to ask yourself.

1.  What are my and/or my family's expected health care needs for 2013? 

Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS)

  • What are my out-of-pocket expenses going to be (e.g., deductibles, copays, coinsurances, day care and elder care expenses, over-the-counter drugs and medicines [prescription required except for insulin] and other over-the-counter products)?
  • Does my child need braces or use acne treatments?
  • Will I send my children (under age 13) to a non-overnight summer camp next year?

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

  • Do I only need routine dental care? Will I need a crown or a root canal? Does my child need braces?
  • Do I need glasses and/or contact lenses? Am I considering Lasik surgery?

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program

  • Am I expecting a new baby? Do I need surgery? Will my medication needs change?

2. What benefits are available in 2013?

Now that you have an idea of what services you may need, the next step is to determine what benefits the plans provide in 2013. If you are already enrolled, please review the "How We Have Changed for 2013" section of your 2013 FEDVIP brochure and Section 2 "Changes for 2013" of your 2013 FEHB plan brochure for any benefit changes.


Should I enroll in a dependent care account and/or a health care account? How much should I contribute to my FSAFEDS account(s)?


Are there plan limitations (i.e., number of visits or dollar maximums) which will result in out-of-pocket expenses? Are any services I may need (such as chiropractic care or Lasik surgery) not covered? What is my share of the cost of prescription drugs? (FEHB only) What deductibles, copays, and coinsurances must I pay? Do I have enough coverage for extensive dental work? Do I have enough coverage for glasses, exams, contact lenses, or other vision services?

3. How much will it cost?

Now that you have an idea of what services you may need and what types of benefits are provided by FSAFEDS, FEDVIP, and/or FEHB plans, the third consideration is cost.

Enrolling in FSAFEDS is free to you. You just have to decide how much (from a minimum of $250 to a maximum of $2500) to contribute from your salary, which you'll get back when you incur eligible expenses.

Look at the 2013 premiums for the FEDVIP and/or FEHB plan you are already enrolled in or considering enrolling in. You can find the premiums in the 2013 FEDVIP and FEHB brochures, the 2013 Guide to Federal Benefits, and on our website at http://www.opm.gov/insure.

What do you do now?

Now that you have considered these questions, you are on your way to making more informed decisions about your benefit choices for 2013. If you want to participate in FSAFEDS for 2013, you must make a new election. If you are satisfied with your FEDVIP plan and/or FEHB plan, you do not have to do anything. Your FEDVIP and/or FEHB enrollment(s) will continue for 2013.

If you are not satisfied with your current enrollment status, please visit the OPM website and your human resources office and look at the following resources OPM provides to assist you in making decisions.