‘Tis the Season: Open Season

Pinnacle Personnel Services, LLC  |  Debbie Hatch
Since yesterday was a holiday, I’m making this post today.  It’s of potential value to everyone:  federal civilians, active military, retired military, self-employed/self-insured individuals, small businesses, and Medicare recipients.  
The Tricare Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) ends on 31 December. If you were enrolled in TRDP, you will not be automatically enrolled in a new Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Plan (FEDVIP).  You have to actually sign up!
More info and sign up here.  
This is the first ever Tricare Medical Insurance open season.  Beneficiaries may change from individual to family enrollment, vice versa, and/or enroll in or change their Tricare Prime or Select plan.  If you do not make changes, your coverage will remain the same through 2019.   Open season does not apply to Tricare Retired Reserve, Reserve Select, Tricare for Life, or Tricare Young Adult.  More info and make changes here.

If you are an active duty family member, enrolled in a Tricare health plan, you also have the opportunity to sign up for a FEDVIP vision plan.

Following this year’s inaugural open season, the Tricare open seasons will happen each year from Monday of the second full week in November through Monday of the second full week in December. Enrollment choices made during this period take effect on 1 January. 
Not only is it open season for federal employees health benefits (compare plans here) but this is also the time to:
(a) Sign up for a flexible spending account. Enrollment in an FSA does not carry forward from one year to the next; you must enroll every year you would like to participate. This program is for active, employed individuals, not retirees.  It’s a great way to save some money on taxes yet I find many employees do not participate.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or don’t understand how these programs work.
(b) Enroll, disenroll, or change plans for federal dental and vision insurance.
Insurance enrollment for private sector individuals is slightly longer than the federal open seasons; running from 1 November through 15 December.  During open season you can apply for new health insurance or renew, change, or update your 2018 health plan for the coming year.  Changes take effect on 1 January.  Review plans and/or sign up here.
The biggest change that will take effect in 2019 is the elimination of the individual mandate, which required most people (with limited exceptions) to either have health insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty for not having it.  Regardless of what you might read from various political sources (I refuse to hop onto either side of this debate) it is THIS fact  – elimination of the penalty – that will likely see enrollment decrease over the coming year.
The annual fall Medicare open season runs from 15 October through 7 December.  Individuals on Medicare (typically 65 and older) can switch from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, vice versa, switch Medicare Advantage plans, or from one Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.  If you didn’t enroll in Part D when you were first eligible, you may do so during open season, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.  Info and things to consider, here.
If you did not sign up for Medicare A (in-patient care) and/or B (out-patient care and doctor coverage) when you were first eligible, you have the opportunity to do that each year from 1 January through 31 March with coverage taking effect 1 July.  Again, a late enrollment penalty may apply.
I am aware that some of these programs and option can be very confusing.  I’m happy to answer questions, help, and/or point you in the right direction.  Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have questions or concerns.

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