As a Federal employee, the benefits available to you represent a significant piece of your compensation package. They may provide important insurance coverage to protect you and your family, and/or, in some cases, offer tax advantages that reduce the burden in paying for some health products and services, or dependent or elder care services.
The purpose of this guide is to provide you basic information about the benefits offered to you as a Federal employee, and assist you in making informed choices about these benefits as you move through your career and prepare for retirement.
In addition to your Civil Service or Federal Employees Retirement System benefits and the Thrift Savings Plan, the Federal government offers five benefits programs to eligible employees and retirees. This Guide includes information on the five programs:
If you are a new Federal employee or have recently become eligible for benefits, the Guide will walk you through the benefits offered, and provide information of how and when to make your choices. If you are a current employee, it will provide the most current information regarding the benefit programs, and will support you as you make decisions during the annual Federal Benefits Open Season, or experience life events that cause you to reconsider previous choices.
The Guide also contains some tips on what to consider as you make your decisions. For instance, did you know that the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and/or the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) can potentially provide you with greater benefits without costing you much more? As a Federal employee, you can choose to pay the FEDVIP and FEHB premiums with pretax dollars and you can use pretax FSA dollars to pay for eligible expenses including FEDVIP and FEHB copays and deductibles. Dental and vision care are also eligible FSA expenses, whether combined with FEDVIP coverage or not. Please take a moment to review the information in this Guide and decide upon the right choices for you.
You will find references throughout the guide to websites or other locations to obtain more detailed information than is available here. We encourage you to access these sites to become a more educated decisionmaker and consumer of Federal benefit programs.
Over the past few years, OPM has encouraged FEHB health benefits plans to increase their use of health information technology (HIT) to create efficient care delivery and to develop tools to help you determine the quality of the doctors, hospitals and other providers that you and your family use for daytoday healthcare needs.
HIT based on broadly accepted standards allows patients, healthcare providers, and health plans to share information securely, driving down costs by avoiding duplicate procedures and manual transactions. More importantly, HIT reduces medical errors from, for instance, misread handwritten prescriptions, and emergency care medical decisions made without complete and accurate information. HIT can also help you find appropriate health information to aid you and your doctor in making appropriate clinical decisions regarding your care. Since privacy and security considerations are vitally important, safeguards are being established to keep your records safe from inappropriate disclosure.
The health plans listed below have made a commitment to offer you and your family access to Internet-based personal health records (PHR). PHRs come in a variety of forms but what they all have in common is that they give you a convenient way to track, view, and manage your personal health information. PHRs also allow you to share your health information with your healthcare providers so they have a better picture of your health history. When providers know your health history they can make more accurate diagnoses and provide you with safer, more efficient care.
The health plans listed here have also made a commitment to offer you and your family access to healthcare quality and price/cost information so you can make more informed choices on which providers to use to receive care. The website information available includes online decision tools with cost estimators and quality indicators for physician and hospital services and prescription drugs used to treat common illnesses and conditions. These health plans describe the sources of this health information and any limitations so you can understand what the information means. Some examples of the types of surgical procedures for which you can obtain cost and quality information include: arthroscopy knee/shoulder, breast biopsy, cataract repair, cesarean delivery, colonoscopy, corneal surgery, gall bladder removal, heart catheterization, hysterectomy, inguinal hernia repair, knee replacement, and tonsillectomy. This information helps you understand the true price/cost and quality of your healthcare and enhances your ability to compare hospital, physician, prescription and other provider value as you make healthcare choices. FEHB health plans are working to expand the price/cost and quality information they provide to you.
The health plans listed on the following page met OPM's HIT, quality and price/cost transparency standards at the time this Guide went to press. As other plans bring these tools on line, we will add them to the list on our website. So, please check the updated information at www.opm.gov/insure before you make your healthcare decisions.
The following health plans have demonstrated their commitment to efficiency, safety and quality through computer system enhancements that offer PHRs and quality and price/cost transparency decision support tools:
HIP Health Plan of New York