New to the Federal Workforce: What You Need to Know About Your Healthcare
With an estimated 2.1 million workers, the federal workforce is an important part of our nation. If you’re a new federal employee, here’s what you need to know about your health coverage options.
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
Your health insurance benefits are offered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, a health insurance program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). It includes coverage for medical services, such as doctors’ visits, hospital care and mental healthcare services.
The federal government pays a large portion of your premium, which is the total cost of insurance paid to your health plan each month. Your portion of the premium comes out of your paycheck, pre-taxed. You have no waiting periods for coverage—your benefits begin as soon as your coverage is effective. For new hires, your coverage is effective the first day of the first full pay period after you enroll.
Depending on where you live, you’ll have both national and local health plans available. You can choose from Consumer-Driven and High Deductible plans, Fee-for-Service (FFS) plans and their Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO). There are different benefits and trade-offs for each type of plan, so it’s best to do your research to find out which one works for your needs and budget.
Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program
You can also get dental and vision benefits through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), a supplemental dental and vision program offered by OPM. It includes separate plans for dental and vision coverage.
You pay the entire cost of the premium out of your paycheck, pre-taxed. You have no waiting periods for coverage—your benefits begin as soon as your coverage is effective. For new hires, your coverage is effective the first day of the first full pay period after you enroll.
All FEHB and FEDVIP plans offer three levels of enrollment based on your coverage needs:
- Self Only – Coverage for just you
- Self Plus One – Coverage for you and one eligible family member, such as your spouse or child
- Self and Family – Coverage for you and multiple eligible family members, such as your spouse and child(ren)
When you can enroll
You have 60 days from your entry on duty date to sign up for health insurance. If you don’t, you will be considered to have declined coverage and will have to wait until the next Open Season to enroll. For federal employees, Open Season is the second Monday of November through the second Monday of December each year. If you have a qualifying life event, you’ll be able to update your coverage outside of Open Season.
How to enroll
You’ll use your agency’s preferred enrollment method to enroll in health coverage. Check out our enrollment tips to learn more. You enroll in FEDVIP coverage through BENEFEDS, by visiting BENEFEDS.com or calling 1-877-888-3337.
A few things to consider
Understanding your needs is an essential first step in deciding what coverage to select. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who needs health coverage—just you or you and your family?
- What benefits are most important to you and your family?
- Is it important for you to see your current doctors?
- What prescription needs do you and your family have?
- How important is overseas care?
- Do you need dental and/or vision coverage?
- How much are you willing to spend on your healthcare coverage?
Help selecting the right plan
If you need help deciding which plan is right for you, try our AskBlue product selection tool. Answer a few questions, and you’ll get a recommendation for the benefit plan option that best suits your needs.