OPM seeks changes to feds' benefits, insurance opportunities

Thursday - 1/2/2014, 1:25pm EST

The Office of Personnel Management wants to expand the opportunities for eligible federal employees and their families to change their enrollment in the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

OPM proposed making these changes to bring FEDVIP inline with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).

"OPM is proposing to expand enrollment opportunities so FEDVIP enrollees can make enrollment changes under the same qualifying life events (QLEs) as enrollees under the FEHB Program," OPM wrote in its proposal.

QLEs allowed under FEHBP include a change in an employee's marital status, reemployment after a break in service or a shift from uniformed service to civilian status.

Eligible federal and postal workers, retirees and their families can access FEDVIP on an enrollee-pay-all basis. Enrollees then purchase dental and vision insurance on a group basis. These purchases offer competitive premiums with no pre-existing condition limitations. For enrolled federal and postal employees, the premiums are withheld from their salary on a pre-tax basis.

Employees can enroll in FEDVIP during the Federal Benefits Open Season, which takes place annually in November and December. New employees or those who are newly eligible to enroll have 60 days to enroll in the program.

"Eligible individuals can enroll in a dental plan and/or a vision plan," OPM wrote. "Individuals may enroll in a plan for Self-only, Self plus one, or Self and family coverage. The rules for family members' eligibility are the same as they are for the FEHB Program."

OPM also seeks changes to FEGLI

OPM also filed a proposal to amend the regulations of the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), giving enrolled employees the ability to elect FEGLI Option B and Option C at the age of 65.

This would change how FEGLI enrollees choose the multiples of coverage they get while receiving compensation or at the time of retirement. Enrollees can choose no reduction or full reduction under Option B and Option C.

"Previous FEGLI regulations provided that shortly before an individual's 65th birthday, he/she would receive a reminder notice, showing what coverage the annuitant/compensationer elected and what the premiums would be for coverage beyond age 65," OPM wrote in its proposal. "The individual then had an opportunity to change his/her election, including choosing to have some multiples of Optional insurance reduced and others not reduced."

Following the enactment of the Federal Employees Life Insurance Improvement Act in October 1998, annuitants or individuals receiving compensation could decide whether or not they wanted coverage to reduce under Option B or Option C at the time of their retirement. Both coverages are reduced 2 percent per month when the annuitants reach age 65 and continue until coverage runs out.

OPM issued FEGLI final regulations on Oct. 1, 2010, which, among other changes, ended the age 65 election opportunity. The new proposal would restore this election opportunity.

"In light of OPM policy to expand the options available under the FEGLI program and the comments received in response to our Oct. 1, 2010 ruling, we are reversing this regulation so that the post-65 election for FEGLI Option B and Option C will be made at the time the enrollee attains age 65," OPM wrote. "We are restoring this election opportunity in order to allow enrollees expanded flexibility to choose among several retirement coverage levels beginning at age 65."

RELATED STORIES:

OPM expanding vision, dental options under FEDVIP next year

Phased retirement: An ageless perk?

OPM in talks to add 6 new carriers to FEHBP