Federal Benefits ‘Open Season’ Ends Dec. 12

November 2011

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This year, the federal benefits “open season” runs from Nov. 14 through Dec. 12. During  open season, CIVMARS may review their respective health benefit plan options and select a
health plan that meets their specific needs and the needs of their families.

The Seafarers International Union strongly encourages all CIVMARS to review health care plan options very carefully. For instance, selecting a plan that provides health care coverage for accidents or illness which may occur outside the United States is very important for all CIVMARS who sail aboard vessels forward-deployed. Currently, the union is negotiating with the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) to ensure that CIVMARS who become injured or ill abroad will receive prompt treatment in medical facilities which offer care similar to the level of care offered by physicians and hospitals located in the United States.

Health care treatment for CIVMARS who become ill or injured while in the service of a vessel abroad is a very complicated issue, according to a spokesperson for the SIU’s Government Services Division. Along with MSC, the Department of Labor-Workman’s Compensation Division and other governmental agency regulations play a part in determining how CIVMARS will receive treatment and how payments for health care services abroad may be made. The SIU will be sending out additional information to CIVMARS as negotiations progress and once negotiations are completed.

While not every hospital abroad takes private health insurance,enrolling in a government-sponsored health care plan with overseas coverage may help expedite care in the event a CIVMAR needs emergency medical treatment.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management website -- http:// www.opm.gov/insure/index.aspx -- in part is designed to help CIVMARS understand health plan coverage options. Each health plan also has its own website that may be reviewed. Other websites which are potentially useful to CIVMARS and their family members in comparing plans and analyzing coverage include Consumer Checkbook (www.checkbook.org) and Plan Smart Choice (www.plansmartchoice.com).


CIVMARS who have additional questions are encouraged to call their union representative or email civmarsupport@seafarers.org.



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