A wider array of federal employees would have the opportunity to enroll in the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program under a proposed rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management Oct. 18.

“This rule proposes to extend eligibility to enroll in FEDVIP to certain temporary federal employees, and certain federal employees on seasonal and intermittent schedules who are eligible for the [Federal Employee Health Benefits Program],” the rule states.

Currently, employees that work at least 130 hours a month and are expected to do so for at least 90 days may enroll in FEHB but not FEDVIP. Such employees are considered full-time workers, under IRS definitions, but may not reach the 33 hours per week minimum to be considered a full-time federal employee.

The category also covers employees that are hired to work seasonally or for a limited period of time but work near-full-time schedules during that period. Certain employees that work below the 130 hour threshold would also be eligible for FEDVIP enrollment.

“Current FEDVIP regulations do not allow certain firefighters on temporary appointments and intermittent emergency response personnel for wildland fire protection to enroll. These employees are distinct from the categories described above because they might not meet the requirement of being expected to work 130 hours per calendar month for 90 days or more,” the proposed rule states.

“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. This proposed rule similarly provides these employees eligibility to enroll in FEDVIP.”

Enrollments under the new eligibility would take place during a 60-day period from the issuance of a final rule.

“OPM estimates that as of June 2021 there are approximately 86,000 federal employees in the impacted categories that are eligible for FEHB that would also be eligible for FEDVIP under this proposed rule,” the rule states.

The rule would also expand the enrollment period for active duty servicemembers who are transitioning into uniformed services retirees, to avoid a gap in coverage.

Under current regulations, service members have 60 days from the date of their status change into uniformed service retirees to enroll in FEDVIP, and that enrollment is effective at the start of the first pay period after the enrollment information is received. This current system means that individuals could experience a break in coverage during their transition.

OPM’s proposed rule would instead expand the enrollment period to include the 31 days before a retiring service member would lose their other vision or dental coverage, giving enrollment in the FEDVIP plan time to kick in when the old coverage expires.

Current enrollees in FEDVIP would also get a new avenue for canceling or reducing their existing coverage if they or a family member became eligible for Veterans Affairs dental and vision services.

Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted through the federal rulemaking portal by Dec. 18.

Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.

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