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.
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
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.
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
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.