The open enrollment period for federal employees to select their health care plans for the upcoming year is fast approaching.
For about month beginning Nov. 13 until Dec. 11, open season allows 8 million federal employees, retirees and some military service members to browse the online marketplace for health insurance. This annual period of shopping for employer-sponsored health care coverage is the chance to review and change benefits for twelve months beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
And with the busy holiday season coinciding with open enrollment, it can be easy for key dates and deadlines to slip by. However, employees cannot tweak, cancel or enroll in coverage outside of this designated four-week period unless they experience a qualifying life event, so now is the time to get ready.
Here’s a timeline for ensuring you’re on top of open enrollment.
This is the time to be planning, experts at Consumers’ Checkbook and the Office of Personnel Management have said.
While not all resources are yet publicly available, some individual health care companies have already published updated brochures online. Now is a good time to be gathering the necessary paperwork and receipts you need to review what your medical costs and coverage looked like in the last year.
Did you pay more out of pocket than you anticipated? Have you gotten any new diagnoses or prescriptions? Planning to add or a drop a family member in the next year? It’s like homeowner’s insurance — don’t wait to figure out what you need until you need it.
Sometime in the first two weeks of November, all plan brochures for FEHB, dental and vision will be available on OPM’s website.
Benefits information will also be up to date on OPM’s plan comparison tool and employees can request a printed brochure from their carrier at this time.
The big day. Open enrollment for FEHB and for TriCare, health insurance for service members and their families, officially begins.
Note that open enrollment dates and deadlines for Tricare are very similar.
For those enrolling in FSAFeds or FEDVIP, enrollment closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
Note that for those on a different time zone, selection closes for FEHB at 11:59 p.m. local time.
If you cancelled your flexible spending account sponsored by the government, this is the last day to incur 2023 expenses.
The new coverage year begins and your selections, or lack thereof, will be reflected in your current health insurance policy on the first pay period that begins on or after Jan. 1, 2024.
Next year, the effective date for most employees is Jan. 14.
If you dropped FEHB coverage this year, this is the last date it will be effective, which generally is the last day of the pay period on which your employer receives your request.
Note that when enrollees voluntarily cancel enrollment, they are not eligible for the 31-day extension of coverage.
April 30, 2024, is the deadline to submit all of your previous years’ reimbursement claims for the dependent care FSA, health care FSA, and limited expense health care FSA.
This is the deadline to submit a qualifying life event for 2024 changes.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.