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2014 civilian benefits open season slated

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Open season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program and the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program will run Nov. 11 through Dec. 9,  Air Force Personnel Center officials announced. 

"Open season is the best time for employees to review their health care coverage, not only to make desired changes, but also to ensure their plan has not been altered or discontinued," said Carlos Colon, of the Air Force Personnel Center. 

Additionally, open season is a good time for employees who do not have health coverage to consider their options in light of the Affordable Care Act requirement to maintain minimum health care coverage for themselves and all dependents claimed on their federal tax return, or qualify for an exemption. Those who do not will be charged a penalty beginning with their 2014 federal tax return, in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

The average premium rate for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will increase by 3.7 percent in 2014, according to U.S. Office of Personnel Management officials. That percentage is only slightly higher than last year's 3.4 percent increase, and less than the 2013 national average increase. The average premium increase for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program will be less than 1 percent for dental coverage and average premiums for vision benefits will decrease by 1.3 percent.

Federal Employees Health Benefits
There are no significant benefit changes for 2014 and more plan choices: 256, up by more than 10 percent from 2013. 

Some plans are reducing their service areas or leaving the FEHB Program altogether, though. Employees in terminating plans or service area reductions with terminating enrollment codes must enroll in a new health plan during open season if they want coverage. If they do not enroll in a new plan, they will not have FEHB coverage in 2014. Agency officials have been instructed to notify enrollees of the need to select new plans for 2014; however all employees should review OPM guidance for the 2014 open season before making a selection.

Coverage under an enrollee's new health plan will be effective the first day of the pay period beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014. For most employees that will be the pay period beginning Sunday, Jan. 12. Enrollees will remain covered and receive the 2013 plan benefits until coverage under the new plan is effective.

Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program
There are three new dental plans and one new vision plan in FEDVIP. There are a total of 10 dental plans and four vision plans for employees to review during open season. Additionally the GHI plan has changed its name to EmblemHealth. 

Federal Flexible Spending Account
Eligible employees can enroll in FSAFEDS during the open season, and current enrollees must enroll annually to continue participating in FSAFEDS. Enrollment does not carry forward year to year.

For more information about the comprehensive open season and the Affordable Care Act, go to myPers at https://myPers.af.mil, or the Internal Revenue Service website at www.irs.gov/uac and search for "questions and answers on the individual shared responsibility provision."
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