Temporary, seasonal employees would become eligible for FEDVIP under new OPM policy

The Office of Personnel Management will propose expanding coverage under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) to include federal e...

The Office of Personnel Management has proposed expanding eligibility for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) to include certain temporary and seasonal workers, among others.

OPM will publish a draft rule Tuesday in the Federal Register, which will describe several recommended FEDVIP changes, including new clarifications and provisions designed to make it easier for certain employees to alter their enrollment with the program outside of the traditional open season window.

Federal employees on temporary, seasonal or intermittent schedules — specifically those who work 130 hours a month for at least 90 days — would become eligible to enroll in FEDVIP under OPM’s draft policy.

OPM expanded eligibility for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to this group back in 2014, and the agency’s proposed rule would simply allow temporary and seasonal workers to enroll in FEDVIP as well.

U.S. Postal Service employees on temporary, seasonal or intermittent schedules would also become eligible for the federal dental and vision insurance program under this policy. USPS doesn’t currently offer dental or vision insurance to employees who work 130 hours a month for at least 90 days.

Finally, the new policy would expand FEDVIP eligibility to certain firefighters on temporary appointments and intermittent emergency response personnel working in wildland fire protection, OPM said. These employees may not meet the requirements of working a certain number of hours per month, but they’re currently eligible for the FEHBP, a benefit they received back in 2012.

In total, OPM estimates some 86,000 temporary, seasonal and intermittent employees are potentially eligible for federal dental and vision benefits based on their existing eligibility for the FEHBP.

But it’s unclear how many will actually enroll in FEDVIP — and what impact their participation will have on the program. FEDVIP already has some 5.4 million enrollees and about 7.3 million covered participants. Members of the public will have two months to comment on these questions and suggest how OPM might make an enrollment window available to employees newly eligible for FEDVIP.

Most current federal employees make changes to their health, dental and vision coverage during open season, an annual window that typically runs in mid-November through early-to-mid-December.

But to give federal and USPS workers on temporary, seasonal and intermittent schedules a chance to enroll for the first time in FEDVIP, OPM envisions giving newly eligible employees a 60-day window after the date that it finalizes this new policy.

“Employing offices must determine eligibility of new and current employees and upon determining eligibility, promptly offer employees made eligible by this rule an opportunity to enroll in FEDVIP so that coverage becomes effective upon issuance of the final rule,” OPM said.

In addition, OPM is also planning a few other FEDVIP changes. It wants to clarify when active duty service members can enroll in the program when they retire. Currently, uniformed service retirees can enroll in the program within 60 days of transitioning into retirement, regardless of when open season begins.

Under existing regulations, their enrollment is effective on the first day of the pay period following the one in which their administrator receives the service member’s enrollment. But active-duty members who retire can experience a break in coverage, often for as long as month, OPM said.

OPM’s draft policy would allow retiring active duty service members to enroll in FEDVIP starting 31 days before they would otherwise lose their normal dental and vision coverage. They could continue to enroll within 60 days of retiring.

Finally, OPM has proposed adding additional qualifying life events for participants to cancel a FEDVIP enrollment or decrease an enrollment type.

For example, OPM recommended a provision that will allow enrollees to cancel or decrease their enrollment type when a family member becomes eligible for dental or vision services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“During the 2018 open season and the period for belated enrollments, OPM became aware of circumstances where enrollees who are both TRICARE-eligible and a federal employee, wanted to cancel coverage because the enrollee or a dependent became eligible for VA dental or vision services,” the agency wrote.

OPM proposed adding a similar qualifying life event for enrollees whose family members become active duty military members.

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