By Jon Powell, CFP®
It’s that time of year again when you start getting notices about open season and all the changes coming to your employee benefits. Even though you’d probably rather turn a blind eye and keep going on with your life, too many people set their benefits and forget them and miss out on opportunities to update their coverage.
The open enrollment period for your 2022 coverage is fast approaching, beginning on November 8th and going until December 13th. This is your chance to review your benefits, learn about any coverage or cost changes, and make some decisions.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 annual enrollment period for government employees.
Does Open Season Apply to Me?
If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), or you take advantage of the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS), you should pay attention to this annual enrollment period. The life insurance and long-term care insurance programs are not included during this time.
What Can I Do During Open Season?
For both the FEHB and FEDVIP programs, federal employees can enroll, change their plan, make adjustments to their plan options, update enrollment type if your family’s coverage needs have changed, or cancel your plan. If you choose to do nothing, your plans will automatically continue.
That is not the case with the various federal FSA programs. If you do not re-enroll during open season, your FSA will lapse. Even if you don’t want to contribute for 2022, keep in mind that any unused funds from 2021 will not carry over if you don’t re-enroll.
Every year there are typically some increases in premium costs and individual plans may change their option. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will announce specific details and the new 2022 premium rates on their website closer to the start of open season. You will also be able to compare plans and find information applicable to your job or status (active employee or retired).
Start preparing now by thinking about the health needs you experienced this year and whether or not your health insurance met those needs. Then think ahead to next year. Are there any life changes coming your way? Will you be getting married? Adding to your family? Do you take new medications now? If so, consider increasing your coverage or adding coverage for your spouse.
In the midst of what sometimes feels like a world gone mad, take some time to prioritize your employee benefits. The government provides these as a thank-you for your hard work, so make sure you maximize them and use your open enrollment period to make decisions that align with your life.
And if you haven’t heard anything about open enrollment, reach out to the human resources department at your work to find out if there is a scheduled meeting or webinar to highlight this year’s benefits. Remember, your HR department is there to walk you through these decisions and answer any questions.
At Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, we specialize in helping government employees manage their finances and prepare for retirement. If you have questions about your government benefits or have yet to start planning for your future, we’d love to help. Please don’t hesitate to call our office at 301-670-0994 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jon Powell is a financial planner and portfolio manager at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only fiduciary firm that has been helping clients plan for and enjoy retirement for more than 40 years. With more than 10 years of experience, Jon is passionate about providing unbiased advice that puts his clients first. He considers it a privilege to carry some of the financial burden for his clients and educate them so they can make empowered decisions for their futures. Jon is also the primary author and curator of the Ferguson-Johnson Wealth Management blog.
Jon graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a bachelor’s degree in financial planning and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional designation. When he’s not serving his clients, you can find Jon spending time with his wife, Erica, and their pets, a black lab named Nugget and an orange tabby cat named Kiwi. He loves to play tennis and golf and won’t turn down a good board game. Jon is a diehard fan of D.C.-area sports teams; you might see him at a Washington Nationals game. To learn more about Jon, connect with him on LinkedIn.