Over 70,000 federal employees and 118,000 Postal employees would become eligible for dental and vision benefits under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) per a new rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
The new rule expands FEDVIP eligibility to certain federal employees on temporary appointments and certain employees on seasonal and intermittent schedules who became eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage in 2015, which includes Postal (USPS) employees on temporary appointments and seasonal and intermittent schedules.
OPM previously issued a proposed rule in 2021 outlining the change. The new final rule includes some modifications to the proposed rule that are outlined in the Federal Register notice.
OPM published the final rule in the Federal Register on July 25, 2023.
Which Federal Employees Are Eligible?
OPM expanded eligibility to enroll in the FEHB Program to certain temporary and seasonal federal employees who are expected to work 130 hours per month for at least 90 days. The new rule expands eligibility to enroll in FEDVIP to this same group of employees.
For USPS employees, certain temporary Postal employees as well as certain Postal employees on seasonal and intermittent schedules expected to work 130 hours per calendar month, for at least 90 days, will be allowed to enroll in FEDVIP coverage as the USPS does not offer separate dental and vision plans for these employees.
Certain federal firefighters will be eligible as well. The rule states that these employees are distinct from the other categories because they might not meet the requirement of being expected to work 130 hours per calendar month for at least 90 days. In 2012, upon request by an employing agency, eligibility to enroll in the FEHB Program was extended to employees in positions that provide emergency response services for wildland fire protection and to employees performing similar types of emergency response services if approved by OPM. Therefore, these employees will be eligible for FEDVIP coverage under the new rule.
When Can These Newly Eligible Employees Enroll in FEDVIP?
Enrollments for newly eligible individuals will be accepted during a 60-day period after the issuance of the final rule that begins when the employing office notifies employees of their eligibility to enroll in a FEDVIP plan.
If a federal or Postal employee is on a temporary appointment or seasonal or intermittent schedule and is expected to work or does work 130 hours per calendar month for at least 90 days, then the individual is eligible to enroll upon notification by his or her employing office. If an employee is a firefighter or intermittent emergency response personnel, s/he is eligible upon notification of their employing office.
The employing offices are responsible for determining eligibility for employees to enroll. Federal or Postal employees with questions should contact their human resources offices for assistance with their personal situations.
Will This Rule Change Impact FEDVIP Premiums?
It could. OPM said it does not expect a “significant overall impact,” but nevertheless does not rule out the possibility of premiums increasing by adding more individuals into the FEDVIP program.
According to the final rule, federal firefighters and emergency personnel have an additional occupational risk, so “the need to cover more costly dental and vision procedures could lead to a very slight increase in average premiums.”
It adds, however, that any increase in premiums might be offset by the likelihood that the newly eligible individuals are likely to be younger and they generally have lower age-related healthcare risks.
The final rule states that enrollees are responsible for paying the entire premium and should only enroll in the program if the benefits outweigh the costs.
How Many Federal Employees Are Impacted?
As of September 2022, OPM estimates 72,100 will become eligible for FEDVIP under the new rule. As of fiscal year 2022, approximately 118,609 Postal employees will become eligible. This estimate of Postal employees is based on the category of USPS employees referred to as full-time non-career (sometimes referred to as pre-career) employees and generally corresponds to the category of employees affected by the modification of FEDVIP eligibility under this final rule.