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2016 FEHB open season effective through Dec. 14

The 2016 Federal Employees Health Benefits open season has begun. Civilian employees and retirees can review their current plans and make changes needed for the FEHB program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, and the Federal Flexible Spending Accounts Program through Dec. 14. (Courtesy graphic)

The 2016 Federal Employees Health Benefits open season has begun. Civilian employees and retirees can review their current plans and make changes needed for the FEHB program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, and the Federal Flexible Spending Accounts Program through Dec. 14. (Courtesy graphic)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The 2016 open season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, and the Federal Flexible Spending Accounts Program will run through Dec. 14.

During open season, employees and retirees will have the chance to review their current plans and make any changes they desire. For the first time, plan participants may now choose a "self plus one" option.

The self plus one option allows enrollees to cover themselves and one eligible family member. Eligibility for the self plus one option is the same as for the self and family enrollment. Eligible family members include spouses and children under age 26; however, a child with a mental or physical disability that existed before age 26 is also eligible for enrollment as a family member.

"In many cases plan participants will see a savings in choosing self plus one coverage over self and family coverage, but that is not true in all cases," said Erica Cathro, an Air Force Personnel Center human resources specialist. "The formula used to calculate the government contribution is based on the average of all plan premiums and requires that the Office of Personnel Management calculate a maximum contribution for each enrollment type. If a plan's premium costs exceed the government's allotted contribution for a self only, self plus one, or self and family enrollment, the employee must pay the remaining amount."

Cathro cautioned employees to pay close attention and compare the rates for FEHB self plus one versus self and family before making their coverage election for 2016.

OPM will open a “special enrollment period” in the month of February to allow active FEHB participants who would have been better served switching to self plus one coverage more time to make the change.

Some plans are leaving the FEHB program at the end of 2015 or reducing their service areas and terminating their enrollment codes. Employees in the terminating plans must enroll in another health plan to ensure they have health benefits for 2016.

Flexible spending accounts

Health care and limited expense flexible spending accounts will no longer have a grace period. Qualifying participants will now be able to carryover up to $500 of unused funds. To be eligible for carryover, participants must have enrolled during open season or as a new hire during the year and must meet the following requirements:

- Be actively employed by a FSAFEDS participating agency and contributing to a FSA account through Dec. 31.

- Re-enroll for the next benefit period. If the employee does not re-enroll, the right to carryover funds will be forfeited.

- Dependent care FSAs will continue to have a grace period each year and are not eligible to carryover funds from one year to the next.

Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program

There are no significant changes to the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program.

Employees can make health benefits elections through the Employee Benefits Information System, which can be accessed through the "Civilian Employee" homepage of the myPers website.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.