Self plus one for FEHB?


Q. Why doesn’t the Federal Employees Health Benefits program offer a self-plus-one option for health insurance like the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program? The cost should not be the same for one plus a spouse as it is for a whole family. I would rather pay two self-only premiums than that for self plus family. The difference between self only and self plus family is staggering.

A. The FEHB law doesn’t provide for that option, and serious consideration has never been given to changing it.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. Thank you to Reg and John for addressing this issue!! I’ve been a BCBS FEP participant for 13 years and never understood why they don’t offer the “self plus one” option.
    The answer provided is so dismissive it’s almost offensive. What is this FEHB law which the author cited, and what does that even mean? And can’t laws be changed?? John brings up and excellent point: other federal insurance policies offer self plus one coverage. Heck, other BCBS policies offer self plus one coverage!
    I guess the question is who do I/we contact about getting the law changed? With so many childless couples or single parents with one insurable child, I’m sure there are plenty of us who’d jump on this option were it available.

  2. To Rachel Fisher,

    The law and the reasoning is quite clear on OPM’s website at the following location:

    The reasoning they provide is still open for debate on several levels, though.

    OPM states that according to section 8905 of title 5, United States Code, “An employee [or annuitant] may enroll in an approved health benefits plan under section 8903 or 8903(a) of this title either as an individual or for self and family.”

    OPM indicates that law [as written and interpreted by OPM]does not allow a Self Plus One option, and that Congress would need to change the law to permit this type of enrollment plan.

    OPM reasons that a self plus one plan may not result in cost savings but the reasoning is completely absurd. The current administration claims it is dedicated to ensuring that all Americans receive affordable health care coverage, but

    My FEHB self only plan costs $66 biweekly, and a self plus family plan costs $220 biweekly. My wife and I do not have children or other dependants, and my employee contribution to our monthly FEHB insurance costs us $440. If we had two children, six children, eight children, etc. our plan would cost us $440. My wife works in the private industry and does not have affordable or quality health insurance coverage. However, if she did work for the federal government, we would save over $300 per month or $3,600 per year simply by staying on self only plans.

    If we look at the rates for dental and vision plans, which do offer self only, self plus one, and self and family coverages, the premiums for self plus one are exactly double the cost for self only.

    OPM says that it comes down to risk sharing among the “older” two-person groups and the younger members with large families. The flaw in OPMs ridculous reasoning is that it gives no consideration to younger two-person families.

  3. Self + One is finally coming to fuition Jan. 1, 2016. Open enrollment for FEHB will reflect this new change. Google FEHB self + one!!!

  4. James & Glenna Reynolds on

    I am very frustrated. I had to stay on hold on the phone in attempts to reach a number given to check into the “Self plus One”. I am interested in transferring. After 50 minutes of holding I finally got an answer. There is a very SLIGHT savings which I do not understand. We are having to pay a premium for a family for only two people. Since it is supplemental, not primary, the figure should be a great savings for only two.

    After getting through on the number 50 minutes later, I was told I had to call another number as the person trying to assist could only go so far. She could not get my husband enrolled, although he is already enrolled. I attempted 17 times to call this number and it is always busy. It doesn’t even give the courtesy of saying “your hold time is approximately 60 minutes”. There is NO REPLY at all.

    When I try to go through the recommended area on the computer, it will not accept my e-mail address. I would assume this would be the short cut if there is any.


  5. I would like to change our insurance to the “Self Plus One” Can you help me? I have been calling for several days and I just get a busy signal. Attempting to do this on the computer was no help. Please help me make the changes. PLEASE !!!

    • During the annual FEHB Open Season, anyone eligible to participate in the FEHB Program may change health plans or options, cancel or suspend their FEHB enrollment, and request plan brochures and information. Annuitants can do the above actions by:

      Using OPM’s Open Season Online system.
      Using Open Season Express by calling 1-800-332-9798.
      Sending regular mail to:
      Office of Personnel Management
      Open Season Processing Center
      P.O. Box 5000
      Lawrence, KS 66046-0500

    • Self Plus One has nothing to do with it. If that supply isn’t covered by your plan, it wouldn’t covered for Self Only or Self and Family enrollees either. You’ll have to check with your plan to find out why they don’t cover it. Then you’d need to check with other plans to see if non-coverage is unique to yours or whether other plans exclude it, too.

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