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When is open enrollment for health insurance for federal employees?

Dino Christoforakis
Dino Christoforakis

Editor in Chief & Licensed Insurance Agent.

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  • The federal health insurance open enrollment is the open season
  • Open season runs from early November through early December
  • The open season begins on the Monday of the second full work week in November
  • Open season ends on Monday of the second full workweek in December


Open season is the best time to review your health insurance coverage. Every eligible employee has a right to buy or change federal employee health insurance. Comparison shopping will help federal employees find the best plans for their individual or family needs and preferences.

Plans change and open season is the best time to review your existing coverage and discover new ways to save money on out-of-pocket expenses. You can also consider a new plan if you have dependents. For those who choose, employees can search conveniently online, the process is potentially rewarding for improving coverage and reducing costs.

Start your research early; enter your zip above and receive free, personalized health insurance quotes today!

The Federal Open Enrollment Period


Open season is the name for open enrollment in the federal employment system. Open season for 2017 runs from Monday, November 14, 2016, through Monday, December 12, 2016.

Each year, Open Season runs from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December. The annual open season is the time set aside to renew, change, or replace federal employee health insurance.

Out-of-pocket Expenses

Open season is the time to consider new plans, make changes to existing ones, and consider options that insurers introduce for the first time. Federal employees must adhere to the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act and maintain qualified health insurance at all times. Some changes may be useful for saving on dependents costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

Flexible spending accounts provide funds for deductible expenses, reduce the impact of dental and vision costs, and dependent care.

Dependent Care

The costs of caring for an elderly dependent or other family members can be significant. Health insurance coverage may not cover the need to provide sufficient care. A flexible spending account or health savings count can provide funds that cover needs such as care for a dependent.

Pre-existing Conditions


When changing to a new policy or adding to an existing policy, insurers cannot lawfully refuse to enroll applicants or dependents due to pre-existing conditions. They cannot use denials, exclusions, or waiting periods. The no-denial policy of the Affordable Care Act applies to every health insurance policy.

The Affordable Care Act changed the Federal Employee Health Benefits. It added preventive and wellness benefits at no cost to the policyholder. In significant ways, these no cost benefits make a foundation for preventive care and wellness. Screening for cancers, diabetes, and mental health issues are among the services that hold promise for reducing suffering and treating diseases in its early stages.

Eligibility for FEHB Coverage

Every federal employee can participate unless excluded by rule or regulation. Some jobs have restricted tenure and carry special sets of employee privileges. For example, by conditions of the employment, some positions will not accrue permanent employee status.

Personnel hired after the open season closes, can get health insurance. New hires have sixty days from the date of employment to enroll in health insurance

What is Open Enrollment?


Each year the federal government accepts bids from insurance providers to participate in the federal employee health benefits programs. The open enrollment is the time when every eligible employee can review plans and select health insurance coverage. Employees can do the below-described functions during the open enrollment period.

  • Renew an existing policy
  • Cancel a policy and select a new one
  • Sign up for a new policy
  • Sign up for or withdraw from premium conversion

Enrollment after Open Season

OPM permits changes outside of the open enrollment period for status changes that require new insurance. These include changes in status that occur in the course of lifetime events. They include the below-listed changes in status.

  • Legal separation
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Childbirth or adoption
  • Death of a sponsor or dependent

Premium Conversion Saves Money


Premium conversion is a feature of the federal health care program that converts part of premium expense to a tax-free allowance. Similar to the private sector in which employees can deduct health insurance payments, premium conversion reduces taxable income. It permits the use of pre-tax dollars to pay premiums.

Participants save an average of 35 percent of the premium by reducing taxable income. The negative side of premium conversion may be that it reduces the amount of social security and Medicare taxes paid; this may affect the level of benefits at retirement.

Innovative Insurance Features

The Self Plus One feature is an example of innovative approaches that help federal employees. This is an alternative to individual coverage and family coverage.

Self Plus One is coverage for two people; Self Plus One recognizes a common pattern in family structure of two-person family units.

It provides an alternative to self-only, and family coverage. The eligible person must be a legal spouse, a child age 26 or under, or a child over 26 with an impairment.

Dental and Vision Coverage

This coverage is optional in the federal system. Members can pay premiums with pre-tax dollars and save on taxes while adding vision and dental protection. The open enrollment period for vision and dental insurance is the same as the open season from November through early December.

Flexible Spending Accounts


Flexible spending accounts use pre-tax income to build up a reserve of funds for health-related expenses. They can pay dental and vision expenses and care for elderly or other dependents.These accounts reduce the impact of out-of-pocket expenses on the individual or family finances. They lower net income and save money that would otherwise go to tax withholding. Flexible spending accounts save out-of-pocket costs for dependents by using pre-tax dollars for their care expenses.

Open Season in November through December


Open season is the open enrollment period of the federal system. It is the time of year to review health insurance coverage and examine the existing and new policy options from insurers. Running from Monday of the first full week in November, the open season ends on Monday of the first full work week in December.

After open season closes, new employees and those with status changes can enroll before the next open season. The open season is important for the opportunity to make changes and take advantage of the latest insurance options. Open season is an excellent opportunity to use comparison shopping.

This method compares the features that are important to the consumer. The consumer decides the focus; these comparisons go far beyond premiums and deductibles.

Enter your zip below to review personal health insurance quotes today!

[su_spoiler title=”References:” icon=”caret-square” style=”fancy” open=”yes”]

  1. https://retireefehb.opm.gov/Annuitant/Home/Default
  2. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/open-season
  3. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/changes-in-health-coverage/changes-in-health-coverage-faqs/#url=Affordable-Care-Act
  4. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/insurance-faqs/flexible-spending-account/?cid=46549ed7-e6c3-43b2-ac52-2ef692133437
  5. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/flyers/health-insurance-overview.pdf
  6. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/enroll/#Employees
  7. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plan-types/
  8. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/life-events/
  9. https://www.opm.gov/faqs/topic/insure/index.aspx?cid=e5aa4df4-5f24-4d7a-9373-a0843dc852a4&page=3
  10. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/special-initiatives/self-plus-one/
  11. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/dental-vision/
  12. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/flexible-spending-accounts
  13. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/open-season/presentations/


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