Now open

Open season, the once-a-year opportunity for Postal Service employees to make changes to their health coverage or choose a new plan, is Nov. 11-Dec. 9.

Here’s what you should know:

• You should review your coverage. The Postal Service wants you to evaluate your options to ensure you have the coverage you need without paying for services you don’t.

• Making changes can save you money. Last year, approximately 42,000 employees made changes to their benefits during open season. On average, these employees are on track to save $2,020 this year — or about $78 each pay period.

• Several options are available. You can choose from a variety of health, vision and dental coverage options through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), USPS Health Benefits Plan (USPSHBP) for non-career employees, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

• You can explore your options online. Log into the Open Season LiteBlue page to review your health plan and find out what’s available. You can compare multiple plans side by side through Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans, an online tool available on LiteBlue.

• You can make changes online, too. To enroll or change coverage in FEHB, USPSHBP or FSAs, go to PostalEASE or call 877-477-3273 (select option 1). Some facilities also offer self-service kiosks that allow you to change your coverage. Use the BENEFEDS site to enroll or make changes to your FEDVIP coverage and the FSAFEDS site to enroll in FSAs.

• There’s a new way to receive information. This year, USPS is testing a service that allows you to receive open season information and reminders through text messages to your mobile devices. Sign up by texting BENEFITS to 21333.

• Help is available. For assistance, call the HR Shared Service Center at 877-477-3273 (select option 5). The Federal Relay Service number is 800-877-8339.

The Postal Service will provide additional information and reminders throughout open season.

Healing PTSD

The Postal Service will release a semipostal stamp Dec. 2 to help raise funds for those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Healing PTSD semipostal stamp, which USPS announced Nov. 8, will feature a photograph of a green plant sprouting from the ground, which is covered in fallen leaves. The image is intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process.

Greg Breeding served as art director for the stamp, which features an image by photographer Mark Laita.

Tens of millions of Americans will experience PTSD in their lifetimes.

Researchers have tracked post-trauma disorders for hundreds of years, but PTSD was not officially added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a widely used reference guide published by the American Psychiatric Association, until the late 20th century.

The condition develops in some children and adults who have survived a traumatic event. PTSD can be triggered by experiences such as a natural disaster, car accident, physical or sexual assault, abuse and combat, among others.

The stamp will be sold for 65 cents. This price includes the First-Class Mail single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund PTSD research.

By law, revenue from sales of the stamp — minus the postage paid and the reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will be distributed to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Semipostal Authorization Act grants USPS the authority to issue and sell semipostal stamps to advance causes deemed in the national public interest and appropriate.

The Postal Service’s current semipostal offerings include the Breast Cancer Research and Alzheimer’s stamps.

The Healing PTSD stamp will be dedicated Dec. 2 in Charlotte, NC.

Connecting customers

Customer Connect Day, an annual celebration of the USPS employee lead-sharing program, is Nov. 17.

The Postal Service offers this recognition each year to thank letter carriers for their participation and to encourage them to continue submitting new leads.

In fiscal 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019), the Customer Connect program generated more than $184 million in new estimated annualized revenue. Since the program’s inception in 2003, Customer Connect has brought in more than $2.8 billion and could surpass the $3 billion mark by the end of this fiscal year.

“We can’t say enough about the great work our letter carriers do every day,” said Mary Anderson, small-business engagement director at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC. “Customer Connect Day is a great way for us to say thanks and let them know just how important they are to our organization.”

Districts are planning office celebrations, and managers are giving special stand-up talks to thank carriers for their efforts. Because Customer Connect Day falls on a Sunday this year, most recognition activities will take place before Nov. 17.

The Sales Blue page has more information about Customer Connect and other sales leads programs.

One carrier who has contributed to Customer Connect is Monica Baechle of Willowick, OH.

When a customer complained to Baechle about her shipping costs with a competitor, the carrier offered to have a Postal Service representative contact the customer. Her lead generated more than $162,500 in new estimated annualized revenue.

“I’m always looking for new revenue,” Baechle said. “Part of providing good service to our customers is also helping them save money and grow their business.”

News Briefs

Holiday color

Paging USPS. A new postal-themed coloring page is available to help USPS employees spread holiday cheer.

The image shows a letter carrier delivering a wreath to a customer whose fence is adorned with similar decorations — a nod to the new Holiday Wreaths stamps.

Earl Musick, an acting human resources specialist in Northern Ohio District, drew the picture, which employees can hand out to customers and their children.

Musick draws holiday coloring pages each year.

To view and print this year’s page, click the image that accompanies this article, then select “Download” under the caption.

Tools for the season. USPS has updated the Postal Communicator’s Toolbox to help managers and supervisors communicate about the organization’s 2019 holiday efforts.

The toolbox offers fact sheets and information on the Operation Santa and Greetings from the North Pole Post Office programs, as well as notecards on projected mail and package volumes, mail-by dates, holiday safety and more.

The USPS Holiday Newsroom site also offers resources for both employees and customers.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.