This open season, don't overlook your dental and vision care – Federal News Network

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Open season gives federal employees and retirees an annual opportunity to make changes to their health, dental and vision insurance plans for the upcoming year.
But relatively few federal employees make many changes to their coverage during a given year. The Office of Personnel Management and other experts often say those participants are missing out on better deals – and the chance to review whether their current plans are truly meeting their health needs.
Having those conversations are more important now, particularly as federal employees and retirees may have put off those routine checkups during the pandemic.
“If you think about it a person might see their dentist more often than their physician,” said Collen Van Ham, CEO of United Healthcare Dental, which has plans on the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
Often those annual or semi-annual checkups with the dentist or eye doctor can give patients important clues about their overall health – and reveal other conditions that need attention, said John Ryan, CEO of United Healthcare Vision.
Open season is a good time to take a step back and think about your health, from your eyes to your teeth, Ryan said.
“There’s much larger health issue around your eyes, so it’s important coverage to consider,” Ryan said. “But it’s a good dialogue to have with your family around your vision. And for those people with glasses, it’s a good chance to say, ‘Hey, when’s the last time we’ve gone to the eye doctor?’”
Both Ryan and Van Ham acknowledged the sheer number of options and benefits within FEDVIP can be overwhelming, but it’s best to shop around.
“Talk to your provider,” Ryan said. “They are some of the best sources, and they will tell you who they think is good to work with as well.”
Open season runs from Nov. 8 through Dec. 13.
The eye actually has a lot of precursors to other health conditions. You can actually identify other diseases, from cardiovascular to diabetes, not just vision correction as we call it when you need glasses or contacts. The one thing that people should really think about — and maybe think differently about — is their eye health is very important, not just for them to function, but it can really be a precursor to tell them how they’re doing otherwise.
CEO, United Healthcare Vision
You can’t quite reach into the mouth over the phone, but what we can do and what we had to rely on while the offices were closed during quarantine is the advancement of what we call tele-dentistry. We’re looking for that to be at least a way to help connect somebody to their provider or their dentist when they’re in need – when they’re in pain, when they’re having an issue or to avoid having to go back to the dentist if all they need to do is a quick follow-up visit with their provider.
CEO, United Healthcare Dental
CEO Dental, United Healthcare
CEO Vision, United Healthcare
Reporter, Federal News Network
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CEO Dental, United Healthcare
Colleen Van Ham is Chief Executive Officer for UnitedHealthcare Dental and a member of the Specialty Benefits Leadership team. Directly supporting the Dental team, Colleen plays a vital role in overseeing operations, network, product, pricing, customer experience and strategic growth objectives for the multi-billion dollar business serving commercial and government customers. Colleen is involved with the National Association of Dental Plans and serves on the Harvard School of Dental Medicine Dental-Medical Integration Initiative Council.
Since joining UnitedHealthcare in 2004, Colleen has served in a variety of roles on the commercial health plan, ranging from Vice President of Account Management to Sales Vice President. Most recently, as President and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Illinois from 2013 to 2019, she was responsible for leading UnitedHealthcare’ s employer group insurance operation in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. She had overall responsibility for the growth and retention of small to jumbo organizations with medical and ancillary products serving 1.6 million Illinoisans.
Colleen has over 25 years of industry experience with a decade spent working in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle as a senior consultant with Mercer on large-employer benefit plan and cost management strategies.
She holds degrees in economics and international studies from Northwestern University and a Masters of Health Care Delivery Science from The Tuck School of Business and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Colleen is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and Board member of The Executives Club of Chicago.
CEO Vision, United Healthcare
John Ryan is General Manager of UnitedHealthcare Vision, a leading eye health company serving more than 20 million people enrolled in employer-sponsored, individual, private label and Medicare and Medicaid plans. John oversees the strategic development, growth, and overall accountability for UnitedHealthcare Vision, leading a team of hundreds of employees across the country.
John has more than 25 years of health care and benefits consulting experience spanning sales, operations, business development, and relationship and network management. Prior to his current role, he served as senior vice president of client management at UnitedHealthcare, managing a team of more than 100 employees and overseeing customer satisfaction, retention and growth for large commercial and public sector employers. He helped lead UnitedHealthcare’s efforts to adopt a net promoter score (NPS) methodology, eventually improving to an industry-leading 72 percent mark. John started with UnitedHealthcare in 2003 as a regional vice president.
Before joining UnitedHealthcare, John worked as a national health care and benefits consultant, including as a principal at Mercer HR Consulting and at Watson Wyatt (now Willis Towers Watson). He also served as a director of three primary care physician clinics in Illinois, including handling contracting with managed Medicare and Medicaid plans.
John earned a master of public administration degree in health care policy from Syracuse University and a philosophy and English degree from the University of Notre Dame. He also completed the general management executive leadership program at Columbia University.
John is active in the community and vision industry, including as a board member of the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP) and a previous member of the board of directors of Holt International Children’s Services. He lives near Chicago with his wife, Barbara, and their family.
Reporter, Federal News Network
Nicole Ogrysko is a workforce and personnel reporter for Federal News Network. She has been covering federal topics since 2013, starting out as a radio producer for 1500 AM. Prior to joining Federal News Network, Nicole was a digital writer for WTOP and a reporter for Radio Pennsylvania.