What to know about February’s limited enrollment period

The Office of Personnel Management is offering federal employees a second chance at the self-plus-one benefits option, and it starts in three weeks.

Beginning Feb. 1 and running through Feb. 29 (2016 is a Leap Year), members of the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program have the ability to enroll in a self-plus-one option, even if they made a different choice during Open Season last month.

“The decision to provide a limited enrollment period was based on historical data that indicates that a relatively small percentage of enrollees take advantage of the annual Open Season,” an OPM spokesperson said in an email to Federal News Radio. “Further, because annuitants may decrease their enrollment at any time, OPM wanted to give active employees a similar opportunity to decrease from self-and-family to self-plus-one outside of Open Season.”

Self-plus-one covers an enrollee and one eligible family member. In September, OPM estimated that about 33 percent of the active federal employees with self or family coverage would shift to self-plus-one, while about 80 percent of the retirees would partake in the new insurance choice.

“This is the first year that self-plus-one is available to FEHB enrollees,” the OPM official said. “While we have made every effort we can to educate enrollees about the new choices available to them, we know that some employees will miss Open Season only to later realize that they would benefit from enrolling in self-plus-one. OPM wanted to give employees a second chance to enroll in self-plus-one.”

For annuitants:

  • The limited enrollment period does not apply to annuitants because they are allowed to decrease enrollment at any time. This means that if you have a self-and-family enrollment and you decide you would like to change to a self-plus-one enrollment, you may do so throughout the year.
  • If you have a self-only enrollment, however, you must experience a qualifying life event in order to change to self-plus-one outside of Open Season.

For active employees:

  • This will allow active federal employee enrollees who are currently enrolled in self-and-family and would have been better served switching to self-plus-one more time to make the change.
  • Individuals will only be able to change from self-and-family coverage to self-plus-one coverage in their current plan. They will not be able to make any other enrollment changes.

While OPM did not provide a specific breakdown of how many 2015 benefits transactions were related to self-plus-one, more transactions were logged this year than from any Open Season between 2012 and 2015.

According to information provided by OPM, the total number of Open Season transactions between 2012-15 are:

  • 2015 — 709,556
  • 2014 — 434,853
  • 2013 — 421,553
  • 2012 — 304,439

OPM said online enrollment portals are ready and prepared to accept enrollments during the limited enrollment period.

The limited enrollment period is not related to an Open Season scheduled this coming September for Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program.

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