In case you missed it, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that this year’s open season for health benefits, dental and vision insurance, and Flexible Spending Accounts will run from November 8 through December 13, 2010.
You can go to the new FedSmith calculators to find out the 2011 rates for health insurance, vision insurance and dental insurance. Be advised: The rates for all three types of insurance are increasing in 2011.
This open season will give federal employees and retirees the opportunity to change their health-care coverage and employees who are not enrolled, but are eligible to participate, the opportunity to elect coverage.
While health insurance is a topic that most readers are aware of, some are not as aware that the open season is also a chance to enroll or change your plan for dental and vision insurance as well as health insurance.
While not as well known, and not as valuable a benefit as health insurance, many readers will want to take the time to become familiar with these other plans to determine if you should enroll in these programs as well as in the health insurance program.
Keep in mind that while most of the cost of your health insurance is paid by the government, that is not the case for dental or vision insurance. Uncle Sam does not pick up 70% or so of your premium for these insurance plans. You pay the tab yourself. You do have the advantage of the rates given to a large group when you are part of the federal community.
You may be wondering if you are eligible to participate in this program if you are not currently enrolled.
You are eligible if you are a Federal or Postal Service employee eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Program coverage (whether enrolled or not).
Vision Insurance: Cost
You can check out the cost of the 2011 vision and dental insurance plans using our 2011 insurance calculator that makes it easy to find out the cost of different plans. Like the cost of your health insurance and your dental insurance, costs are going up again in 2011.
Vision insurance is expected to go up by 3% in 2011. This insurance will cost an individual about $4.78 for each pay period, it will cost family users about $14.11, and self plus one enrollees will pay about $9.55 per pay period.
Benefits with this type of insurance vary with the provider and type of plan you select. One thing that will surprise some readers who dislike the health insurance family plan that charges the same for a couple as for a large family: With the vision and dental plans you can purchase a family plan that covers two people or, as an option, pay more and cover a larger family.
A vision plan will cover items such as lenses, lens frames and eye exams along with various options for eyeglass lenses: (See Blue Cross vision benefits for 2011; here are the Vision Service Plan (VSP) plan benefits and here are the benefits for UnitedHealthCareVision. Check to make sure you are looking at the 2011 benefits package as all of the sites may not yet reflect the most current benefits.
Your rates may run as low as $101.66 per year for the standard, self-only plan to as much as $472.94 for a high option, family plan.
This program allows dental insurance to be purchased on a group basis which generally provides lower premiums and allows those eligible for the program to obtain the insurance without pre-existing condition limitations. Premiums for enrolled Federal and Postal employees are withheld from salary on a pre-tax basis. Premiums for retired employees are withheld on a post-tax basis.
That does not mean that the dental insurance is inexpensive or that the cost is going down. Premiums for dental insurance are going to rise by about 3.8 % in 2011. The average cost in 2011 will be about $15.33 per pay period for an individual, $43.85 for a family plan, and a little over $30.00 for the self plus one plan.
These plans cover a range of dental services. The amount covered by a policy depends on your plan and whether you have the high or low option services within that plan. For example, here are the 2011 benefits
The 2011 federal dental plan brochures are not yet available for all plans. Here is a page for one of the 2011 plans (GEHA) to give you an idea of the benefits that may be available to you under this program.
You can obtain more information on these plans on the OPM website.
Whether any of these plans make sense for you will depend on the services you are likely to need and your geographic area. We hope our insurance calculators will help you narrow down your choices for the upcoming open season.