Most federal employees have health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB). But you might wonder whether coverage extends to vision or if you need separate coverage elsewhere? Some FEHB plans do have some vision coverage. It doesn’t usually amount to much vision coverage, which is why it’s probably best to get another vision insurance plan.
Thankfully, there’s another government plan that comprehensively covers vision care for your eyes. It’s called the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
What Does FEDVIP cover?
FEDVIP is a comprehensive insurance plan specifically designed to help pay for vision and dental expenses. But, we’ll stick with the topic at hand — vision coverage.
It’s vital to receive regular vision care to maintain healthy eyes. Since it can be expensive to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist or to get eyeglasses or contact lenses, it pays to have insurance to help with the expenses associated with eye care.
FEDVIP offers five vision plans for U.S. government employees. The companies offering vision plans for the 2021 Open Season are Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, MetLife, United Healthcare, and VSP Vision.
Each of these plans covers eye exams, glasses, and contact lens. Some of the plans also offer significant discounts if you need low vision therapy, Lasik surgery, prosthetic eyes, or more. It’s best to evaluate each plan to determine what kind of coverage each plan offers.
You can learn more about these vision plans at the Office of Personnel Management’s website.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for FEDVIP?
If you’re a federal employee and you already know that you’re eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program, then you probably meet the eligibility requirements for FEDVIP’s vision plan as well. That is if your job position doesn’t prohibit coverage. But, to enroll in a vision plan, you don’t have to be enrolled in FEHB.
If you’re a federal worker and want to enroll in a vision plan, the best thing to do is contact your HR office or Retirement division to confirm your eligibility.
Enrolling in a Vision Insurance Plan
Once you know for sure that you qualify, you can enroll in FEDVIP during the annual Open Season, which usually runs at the end of the year. If you’re a new employee, you have 60 days from your first day of employment to enroll. It’s important to take advantage of enrolling during Open Season, because otherwise you may have to wait a full year before the next chance to enroll comes around.
On rare occasions, there are opportunities to enroll outside of open season. These usually involve a qualifying event, such as a marriage or loss of other vision coverage.
You can enroll through the BENEFEDS website or directly through a federal employee vision plan provider like Blue Cross. They are authorized by the federal government to administer the FEDVIP vision plans. Alternatively, you can call them at 1-877-888-3337.
What Do FEDVIP Dental Plans Cost? Will my Government Employer Pay a Portion?
Unlike the FEHB plans, in which the government pays most of the premium, your government employer does not contribute to vision insurance premiums. The entire premium must be paid by you through a pre-tax deduction from your paycheck.
The cost for your vision insurance coverage will depend on which plan you choose and its options. As an example, the standard monthly Aetna premium for coverage of one person is $6.70, while the standard rate for a family is $20.09. Blue Cross is slightly higher for its monthly premium covering a single person at $7.58, and its monthly rate is $22.73.
When choosing a plan, however, you’ll want to see beyond the premiums and take a deep look at the coverage each policy provides.