Dental and vision benefits for federal employees have been discussed among federal employees and on the Hill for years. At this moment though, they still don’t exist for feds.
The Office of Personnel Management has issued an announcement that will be of interest to those who were hoping to take advantage of these benefits. "As required by the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Benefits Enhancement Act of 2004, OPM is making dental and vision benefits available to individuals by 2006."
In plain English, this means that the program to provide these benefits will be delayed until the end of next year.
The reason for the delay is that federal employees will have an open season for this new program at the same time there is an open season for the Federal Emplyees Health Benefit Program (FEHB) and the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) program.
According to the agency, this is a better approach as federal employees will be better able to take into consideration the planning and tax considerations of all three programs at the same time and to compare the benefits of each program based on the information that will be distributed during the open season.
If you are expecting to receive these benefits at no cost, you will be disappointed. The program is designed to take advantage fo the government’s purchasing and oversight power to allow employees to purchase this coverage at their own expense. While that will not satisfy everyone, it is a step in the direction of providing better dental and vision coverage for the federal workforce but the first offering will obviously come later than originally planned.
Here is the OPM page with frequently asked questions about current dental coverage under the FEHB program.