OPM: Enhanced Dental, Vision Benefits To Be Available In 2006

OPM will soon begin implementing the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Benefits Enhancement Act of 2004.

The Office Of Personnel Management has issued its annual Call Letter, which provides guidance and negotiation objectives for benefit and rate proposals to Federal Employee Health Benefits Program carriers and said it was preparing to offer enhanced dental and vision benefits to employees in 2006.

OPM will soon begin implementing the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Benefits Enhancement Act of 2004 and will issue a request for proposals by late summer and select carriers by the end of the year in preparation to offer an open season in the spring of 2006.

In its call letter, OPM encourages carriers to continue supporting the American civil service by addressing specific issues, including health information technology, additional High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) options with the Health Savings Accounts (HSA), care management, dental and vision benefits, and overall quality and safety.

OPM officials said its focus was to ensure that every effort was made to provide quality and affordable health care to government employees and to ensure that the federal workforce has “greater access to good health care coverage and more control over health care decisions,” stated Stephen Benowitz, OPM associate director for human resources products and services.

“We appreciate the work that has already been done, and we encourage innovative proposals for comprehensive benefit packages that will keep health care affordable for the federal family.”

Following the Health Information Technology (HIT) initiative of 2004, this year’s call letter presents steps carriers can use to promote information technology including respecting enrollee privacy. The 10-year HIT initiative promotes a health-care infrastructure for all Americans that establishes electronic medical records and allows doctors to electronically send prescription orders to pharmacists.

While refraining from issuing any benefit mandates, the letter encourages continued support of options such as HDHPs with HSAs and preventive care through screenings and vaccines. OPM also expressed its commitment to promoting programs and practices to address the complex health-care needs of individuals with chronic conditions, including obesity, depression, and disease prevention through smoking-cessation.

“We encourage you to provide your best creative ideas to keep the FEHB Program competitive and cost-effective. We look forward to receiving your rate and benefit proposal,” the letter states.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47