Insight by United Healthcare Federal

This open season, don’t overlook your dental and vision care

Open season gives federal employees and retirees an annual opportunity to make changes to their health, dental and vision insurance plans for the upcoming year.

But relatively few federal employees make many changes to their coverage during a given year. The Office of Personnel Management and other experts often say those participants are missing out on better deals – and the chance to review whether their current plans are truly meeting their health needs.

Having those conversations are more important now, particularly as federal employees and retirees may have put off those routine checkups during the pandemic.

“If you think about it a person might see their dentist more often than their physician,” said Collen Van Ham, CEO of United Healthcare Dental, which has plans on the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

Often those annual or semi-annual checkups with the dentist or eye doctor can give patients important clues about their overall health – and reveal other conditions that need attention, said John Ryan, CEO of United Healthcare Vision.

Open season is a good time to take a step back and think about your health, from your eyes to your teeth, Ryan said.

“There’s much larger health issue around your eyes, so it’s important coverage to consider,” Ryan said. “But it’s a good dialogue to have with your family around your vision. And for those people with glasses, it’s a good chance to say, ‘Hey, when’s the last time we’ve gone to the eye doctor?’”

Both Ryan and Van Ham acknowledged the sheer number of options and benefits within FEDVIP can be overwhelming, but it’s best to shop around.

“Talk to your provider,” Ryan said. “They are some of the best sources, and they will tell you who they think is good to work with as well.”

Open season runs from Nov. 8 through Dec. 13. For more information, visit

Plan Overviews

The eye actually has a lot of precursors to other health conditions. You can actually identify other diseases, from cardiovascular to diabetes, not just vision correction as we call it when you need glasses or contacts. The one thing that people should really think about -- and maybe think differently about -- is their eye health is very important, not just for them to function, but it can really be a precursor to tell them how they’re doing otherwise.

Trends in the Insurance Marketplace

You can’t quite reach into the mouth over the phone, but what we can do and what we had to rely on while the offices were closed during quarantine is the advancement of what we call tele-dentistry. We’re looking for that to be at least a way to help connect somebody to their provider or their dentist when they’re in need – when they’re in pain, when they’re having an issue or to avoid having to go back to the dentist if all they need to do is a quick follow-up visit with their provider.

Featured speakers

  • Colleen Van Ham

    CEO Dental, United Healthcare

  • John Ryan

    CEO Vision, United Healthcare

  • Nicole Ogrysko

    Reporter, Federal News Network