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Federal Employees Health Benefits Program

Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions About Open Season

A. The effective date of the open season change is the first day of the first full pay period in January. For annuitants this date will always be January 1. In 2003, for example, the effective date will be January 13 for most non-postal employees and January 12 for postal employees. For individuals in receipt of benefits from the Office of Workers Compensation, the effective date was January 27.

A. If you are a current Federal employee, you should contact your Human Resources Office and ask them to find out on what date and carrier report number your enrollment information was forwarded to your new health insurance carrier. With this information, your new carrier will be able to locate your enrollment data and forward ID cards to you.

If you are an annuitant, call your plan. If they tell you they haven't gotten the paperwork yet from your retirement system, you may contact your retirement system. If you are a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitant or a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitant, contact OPM at

Before contacting your retirement system, have your annuity information ready, for instance, your name, civil service annuity number (beginning with CSA or CSF), phone number and address, and information about your plan, such as the carrier enrollment code.

A. By regulation, an employee who does not change the enrollment during the open season is considered to have canceled the plan in which enrolled. The cancellation is effective the day before the first day of the first full pay period in January. The plan is responsible for providing coverage only through midnight of that date. If you're not sure of the date, you should contact your Human Resources Office and not the plan for the effective date.

You should be aware that you are not entitled to a 31-day extension of coverage because the action is considered a cancellation not a termination. You cannot reenroll in the FEHB Program until the next open season. Also, this is considered a break in coverage. The 5-year requirement to continue your enrollment into retirement will begin when you reenroll in the FEHB Program. If you are within five years of retirement, you will have to work additional time to be eligible to continue your enrollment into retirement.

If you are an annuitant, you are deemed to have enrolled in the standard option of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Service Benefit Plan. OPM deems annuitants into the standard option of BCBS because the law doesn't permit annuitants to enroll in the FEHB Program. If annuitants cancel their FEHB enrollment, they can never reenroll.

A. Your new plan is NOT responsible for providing coverage until the effective date of your enrollment change which for most employees is the first day of the first full pay period in January. If you need medical services before the effective date of your open season enrollment, you should contact your old plan. Please remember, while the new enrollments are not effective until the first full pay period in January, the new plan benefits are effective January 1. Your old plan, therefore will provide coverage according to the new contract. These expenses will count toward your prior year's deductible.

If you are an annuitant, you should contact your new plan. Your open season enrollment is effective January 1.

A. We are disappointed that we have not been able to offer HMO selections in all areas of the country. If Federal enrollees have HMOs in their local areas that do not currently participate in the FEHB Program, we encourage them to ask their HMOs to consider the FEHBP market for their geographic areas. New plan application packages for the FEHB Program are available at Applications are due to OPM by January 31 of each year for the next contract term.

You may not be eligible to enroll in an HMO plan but there are seven fee- for-service plans available nationwide to all Federal employees and annuitants. These plans are: Alliance, APWU Health Plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan, GEHA Benefit Plan, Mail Handlers, NALC, and PBP Health Plan. Please review the brochures of each of these plans to determine which plan best meets your medical needs.