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. 8-Dec. 13.

Here’s what you should know:

You should review your coverage. The Postal Service recommends you evaluate your options to ensure you have the coverage you need without paying for services you don’t. It’s especially vital that you have access to health care for you and your family during the coronavirus pandemic.

Making changes can save you money. Balance your benefits so you save money and maintain the health coverage you require. Most employees overspend on benefits because they don’t take the time to compare and contrast plans.

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

You can explore your options online. USPS will offer a virtual benefits fair, which you can register for by going to the Open Season LiteBlue page.

You can also review your health plan and find out what’s available by comparing multiple plans side by side through Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

This is also a good time to review and update your PostalEASE login information, as well as your beneficiary forms.

You can make changes online, too. To enroll or change coverage in FEHB or USPSHBP, go to PostalEASE or call 877-477-3273 (select option 1). Use the BENEFEDS website to enroll or make changes to your FEDVIP coverage and the FSAFEDS site to enroll in FSAs.

There are additional ways to receive information. Like it has done in the past, USPS will allow you to receive open season information and reminders though text messages to your mobile devices. Sign up by texting OpenSeason2021 to 21333.

Help is available. For assistance, call the USPS Human Resources 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 before it concludes on Monday, Dec. 13.

Outflanking fraud

The Postal Inspection Service and the AARP Fraud Watch Network are marking Veterans Day by highlighting Operation Protect Veterans, a campaign aimed at preventing scams against current and former service members.

According to a study by AARP, veterans are twice as likely as the general public to be victims of scams.

Some swindlers offer veterans the opportunity to refinance U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-backed home loans at extremely low rates. Others will pose as government agents to access personal information or will offer lump sum payments in exchange for vets signing over any future monthly benefit checks.

Older veterans are often reluctant to report being victimized, for fear of losing independence by appearing vulnerable. This inaction benefits the fraudsters, who continue their crimes, targeting more veterans.

Many businesses and organizations give special offers and discounts to service members on Veterans Day. This environment can provide cover to con artists looking to separate veterans from their money. That is why it is important for veterans, as well as their friends and family, to be aware of schemes leveled at them.

The Inspection Service’s website has more information about Operation Protect Veterans.

Fulfilling holiday wishes

A new video shows how customers can participate in a treasured holiday tradition: USPS Operation Santa.

The program allows generous people and organizations to “adopt” letters to help Santa Claus fulfill the holiday wish lists of children, as well as some adults, experiencing hardship.

The 90-second animated spot is hosted by Holly, the program’s holiday helper. She offers a checklist for children on completing their wish list and mailing it to Santa in time for Christmas.

For example, children should include their full name, age and return address in the letter and on the envelope. When it comes to listing what they want, they are encouraged to be specific about the size, style and color for clothes and shoes and with the names of any games, toys or books.

Holly also suggests a parent or guardian review the letter before sending. Place it in a stamped envelope addressed to Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888. Letters should be mailed by Dec. 10 or sooner.

The video also explains how customers can go to USPSOperationSanta.com to read and adopt letters.

The program began accepting letters from children Nov. 1 and will continue to do so until Dec. 10, with postmarks no earlier or later than these dates. Letters will be available for adoption from Nov. 29 through Dec. 22.

The Postal Service began sharing the video on social media and other channels in mid-October.