Here’s an open enrollment checklist for 2023 federal health benefits

Open enrollment for federal employee health benefits is well underway. Have you made your pick yet?

If you haven’t, we get it. From coordinating holiday travel to choosing the perfect casserole for Thanksgiving to deciding if this is finally the year you’ll settle for a fake Christmas tree, you have a lot on your mind this time of year.

And keeping health insurance in mind is really a “celebration!”

Still, don’t let the December deadline elude you. Experts told the Federal Times that even if you are satisfied with your current plan, it is likely to change in 2023.

Federal employees, retirees and some military service members can browse online marketplaces to buy health insurance for the next year. This annual open enrollment period for employer-sponsored health care coverage is a chance to review and change coverage for the twelve months beginning January 1, 2023. More than 8 million people obtain coverage through the plans each year.

Whether you’re new to government, a qualifying event has happened in your life, or you just want to make sure there isn’t a more affordable plan, this checklist will guide you through the steps of open enrollment. You have until December 12 to finalize your choices.

Know how the overall cost increase affects you

We’ve reported this before, and we’ll report it again: Although beneficiaries are in for a big increase in health care costs this year, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to pay an average of 8.7% more.

In terms of widely reported average growth, 119 schemes had growth that was below average, while 78 had average growth of 8.7% or more.

This article has more advice on shopping.

Identify an appliance to comparison shop

There are many ways to compare plans, from the Consumer Checkbook tool offered by the Office of Personnel Management to doing your own research based on this year’s plan brochure.

You can see how your plan changed in Section II of the Official FEHB Plan Brochure.

OPM also provides information on healthcare quality and customer experience scores, which you can search by region for a specific plan here.

Brush up on plan types

Two types of plans participate in the FEHB program: fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations.

Typically, HMOs use a network of doctors to coordinate care on your behalf. Premiums for HMOs can sometimes be less expensive than for FFSs.

The enrollee or health care provider is reimbursed for the cost of services covered in FFS plans. The enrollee can choose his/her own doctor, hospital and other health care providers. Most FFS plans provide services through a preferred provider organization.

Don’t Ignore Savings Accounts

FSAFEDS allows federal employees to save money for health care expenses with a flexible spending account. While not mandatory, it is a way to help pay for needs that are not covered by your FEHB plan. It also offers an account through the Dependent Care FSA for families with young children or elderly members.

Here’s how it works: Money contributed to your account is segregated pre-tax, according to OPM, which means you can save about 30% on your federal taxes. The average tax savings for a person earning $50,000 who contributes $2,000 to an FSA account is approximately $600.

Eligible employees may enroll in FSAFEDS during the open season each year, but note that enrollment does not carry over from year to year.

You can also refer to the FSAFEDS Eligible Expenses List for a detailed list of eligible expenses.

ask yourself how your health or family needs have changed

It’s a good idea to take inventory of your health care bills for the past year and estimate how much each year costs out of pocket.

Also consider how your needs may change in the new year: Are you expecting a baby? Will you need planned surgery? Will Your Child Need Braces?

If you have anticipated dental or vision expenses for you or your family, check whether your health insurance plan covers them. Then, add up the premiums and out-of-pocket costs for the plans that interest you.

And remember that in 2023, there are 86 FEHB plan options where self-and-family enrollment is less expensive than self-plus-one enrollment.

how to choose

If you’re ready to pick up your health insurance, check out this link to see which portal you need to use.

Annuitants may change, cancel or suspend their FEHB enrollment by using OPM’s online system, by calling 1-800-332-9798, or by sending regular mail postmarked after the open season end date.

What if I don’t make any changes?

If you are satisfied with your health insurance benefits and the price you will pay next year, you do not need to do anything. Your enrollment will automatically continue.

For more information on specific plan changes and unique coverage areas for 2023, see the Federal Times Open Enrollment Guide is linked here.

Molly Wiesner is a staff reporter for the Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracts related to the government workforce. She had previous stints as a digital producer at USA Today and McClatchy, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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